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In Kaliningrad, a remote part of Russia on the coast of the Baltic Sea, a skilled language translator is killed. His notebook with key coded notes from a secret meeting he translated is missing.
In Moscow, Senior Investigator Arkady Renko (of Gorky Park fame) is attending the burial of Grisha Grigorento, from Kaliningrad. Grisha led lived 2 lives, one a wealthy respected businessman and the other a mafia type chief with drug, prostitution and arms-selling connections. He had with many enemies and someone had shot him in the head. Most of the leaders of the Russian underworld attended the funeral. Grisha's unscrupulous son, Alexi, is not above suspicion.
During the ceremony there was a demonstration nearby against the proposed burial of Tatiana Petrovna a famous investigative journalist on sanctified ground. Tatiana had apparently committed suicide recently by jumping from a sixth floor window. Renko gets involved in looking at her death and finds a tenuous connection between the three deaths.
Renko is a diligent investigator who has never reached the heights in his career because of his integrity. He is still a skilled operator and in looking into each of the deaths starts to find a link between them.
Cruz Smith has been called a writer of literary fiction thrillers - and I would agree. This is not your fast-action, page-turning thriller. It starts slowly but turns into a skillfully crafted tale of diligent police investigation in the complex and frequently corrupt world of modern Russia. It is not as good as some of the earlier books in the series but is still and enjoyable and intelligent read.