What does the suicide of an investigative reporter, the murder of a mafia kingpin and a missing translator have in common? Arkady Renko feels they are connected somehow and sets off to solve the mystery. His one clue is a notebook written in a personal code by the missing translator. His investigation takes him the city of Kaliningrad, a small piece of Russian territory isolated from the country between Estonia and Poland. It leads him to something bigger than he imagined.
In this novel, Martin Cruz Smith continues the saga of Arkady Renko and introduces us to a little known part of Russia. In reading this series and having spent time in Russia, I can attest that he captures the mood of Russian life with its tones of hopelessness very well. You can almost smell the boiled cabbage and potatoes and vodka.