The Whole Rotten Edifice
on Jan. 30, 2011
I went for this after reading the author's excellent first novel, Sirocco Express and was not dissappointed. The skilled writing remains in this second outing even if the style is somewhat of a departure. This is action-packed from the first chapter as the stubborness and ineptitude of the Soviet high command that led to the German attacks at the start of WWII are perfectly portrayed.
From there we have the intruiging tale of a father and a daughter at war and their relationship which remains estranged in spite of all the bigger things going on. Both father and daughter have their respective nemises, people who could easily have them rubbed out if they are seen to step out of the party line so that feeling on living on a knife edge during the Stalinist terror is captured brilliantly.
As someone who studied Russian and spent time in the country I often find myself cringing at the efforts of non-Russians to set books in some stereoptyped version of Russia. Not so at all with this. As with his first book the author has managed to capture a genuine sense of the place, and in this case time as well, which makes you think it could easily have been written by a native of the country.