A fascinating, absorbing and entirely gripping read. Moskva is almost a classic tale of cold warriors, set in Moscow in the mid-1980s, when the red writing was most certainly on the wall. The plot is simple: a missing person. And that’s where the simplicity ends. The missing person is the British ambassador’s daughter, a rebellious teen, and the Brit tasked to find her again is a former soldier sent away from London to a place where he can do no harm.
The star of the book is Moskva, capital of Mother Russia; the players, the characters – and there are a lot of them honest and otherwise, likeable and otherwise – are as diverse, unpredictable, eccentric and intriguing as that vast city itself. Jack Grimwood paints a compelling picture of the social strangeness, the teetering complexity of the Soviet structure, the contradictions, conflicted loyalties and heavyweight friendships of that disappeared, collapse and failed attempt at a glorious political ideal.
The stubborn beliefs, the flickering, dying light of the red star of Soviet communism, the relics of military conflicts and the ferocious personal loyalties – of family, friendship, comradeship and collapse, laced with unending humour and charm… all are here. Layer upon layer of careful plotting and clever characterisation, as well as some heavyweight observations on both Russian and British political structure.
But worry not if you don’t care about all this; if all you want is a thriller. This book boasts thrills enough for anyone. The action bounds along, the pace accelerates and brakes exactly as it does in real life; puzzles and their solutions are everywhere.
It is a beauty of a book. Complex and simple at the same time, the writing is easy to read, the style effortless.
Reviewed by Frank Westworth
Moskva by Jack Grimwood is available in paperback and ebook
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