Synopses & Reviews
Captain Alexei Korolev has nothing to complain about. He has his own room in an apartment, a job in the police force that puts food on the table, and his good health. In Moscow in 1937, thats a lot more than most people have to be grateful for. But for the first time in a long time, Korolev is about to be truly happy: his son Yuri is coming to visit for an entire week.
Shortly after Yuris arrival, however, Korolev receives an urgent call from his boss—it seems an important man has been murdered, and Korolev is the only detective theyre willing to assign to this sensitive case. In fact, Korolev realizes almost immediately that the layers of sensitivity and secrecy surrounding this case far exceed his paygrade. And the consequences of interfering with a case tied to State Security or the NKVD can be severe—you might lose your job, if youre lucky. Your whole family might die if youre not. Korolev is suddenly faced with much more than just discovering a murderers identity; he must decide how far hell go to see justice served . . . and what hes willing to do to protect his family.
In The Twelfth Department, William Ryan's portrait of a Russian policeman struggling to survive in one of the most volatile and dangerous eras of modern history is mesmerizing.
"The shooting murder of Boris Azarov, a high-level Russian scientist conducting secret psychological research, propels Ryan's excellent third pre-WWII thriller featuring Alexei Korolev, a Moscow CID detective (after 2012's The Darkening Field). Korolev, a methodical, almost plodding investigator, gets assigned to the case, but he soon realizes that several arms of the secret police either want him to back off entirely or to arrest someone just to clear the books. Korolev gets a quick demonstration of the power he's up against: his 12-year-old son, Yuri, is kidnapped amid subtle assurances that the boy will be returned safely if Korolev goes with the flow. While the police work will keep readers engaged, the series' chief strength comes from Ryan's skillful evocation of everyday life under Stalin. Ordinary Soviet citizens, Korolev included, have become resigned to all forms of corruption and hypocrisy, yet must still wear the mask of communist devotion. Agent: Andrew Gordon, David Higham Associates (U.K.). (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The plot is intricate, the action satisfying, and Ryans use of period detail . . . makes for exhilarating reading.” —Booklist (starred) on The Darkening Field
“Compelling . . . Readers will want to see more of Korolev, a weary but determined cop who puts justice ahead of Stalinist politics—at his peril.”
—Publishers Weekly on The Darkening Field
"One of the year's most exciting [debuts] . . . Ryan puts a fresh, original spin on the briskly paced The Holy Thief, delving into Soviet politics, culture and corruption."
—Oline Cogdill, Florida Sun-Sentinel on The Holy Thief
“Ryan's tense, tightly plotted whodunnits feel gloriously plausible, a function of the intimate link he forges between his readers and his characters, never mind that those characters are living through extraordinary times.”—The Guardian
“Ryans latest has a fine cast of characters, puzzling murders, interesting police work, and a strong sense of the terror that pervaded Stalins Russia. But it is his eye for period detail (e.g., scheming apparatchiks who denounce a neighbor simply to move into a larger apartment) that makes this one special.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The Twelfth Department is the third outing for William Ryans increasingly impressive Captain Korolev series…Theres an Orwellian influence to the manipulation of language and meaning…The geographical setting and political backdrop are compelling enough, but Korolev is a fascinating character in his own right, an army veteran of “the German War” who acknowledges the poisonous nature of the regime he serves even as he clings to the hope that its propaganda might some day chime with reality.”—The Irish Times
“Excellent…While the police work will keep readers engaged, the series chief strength comes from Ryans skillful evocation of everyday life under Stalin.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)
About the Author
WILLIAM RYAN is the author of The Holy Thief, which was a Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel and shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Ryan attended Trinity College, Dublin and completed his Masters in Creative Writing at St. Andrews University. He lives in London. The Twelfth Department is his third novel.