The Bloody Meadow

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The Bloody Meadow, William Ryan, book reviewThe Bloody Meadow is the second novel by William Ryan to feature Aleksei Korolev, a detective Working for the Moscow Criminal Investigation Division in 1930s Russia. It follows on from The Holy Thief which was very well reviewed and shortlisted for a number of crime fiction awards. The Bloody Meadow could be read as a stand-alone novel, but I would recommend that a reader starts with The Holy Thief, as it provided some of Korolev’s background; he continues to grow as a character through the second novel.

The Bloody Meadow starts with Korolev in Moscow, but he is quickly dispatched to Odessa to investigate the death of a young woman on the scene of a film set. She has apparently committed suicide, but had a secret relationship with a senior member of the Soviet hierarchy and there is a degree of nervousness at a high political level about her death. To an extent, the subsequent course of the novel is a typical “closed room” murder mystery. All of the key players are introduced at an early stage, and it is apparent that the culprit(s) lie among that group. Nonetheless, the plot is well developed and the eventual outcome not at all obvious until quite far into the novel.

Ryan writes very well — it will help your appreciation of the novel if this is a period of history in which you are interested, but regardless of this most readers will recognise it as a very well crafted story. In both The Bloody Meadow and its predecessor I have greatly enjoyed the portrayal of 1930s Russia. The all prevailing sense of worry that any casual comment might be perceived by an informer as politically sensitive with devastating consequences is conveyed very clearly, along with the effect on the population of grinding poverty and lack of resources in the context of a relentless public and political positivism. The combination of a well-written book and an interesting context make for a compelling mixture.

There will be more novels to follow in this series. Ryan introduces some further characters in The Bloody Meadow who are clearly destined to feature in the next novel. The books are supported by an excellent website, which contains a glossary and a good deal of background about the writing of the books. Now it is a good time to introduce yourself to this series, and I am sure that like me you will find yourself looking forward to the next one.

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Bloody Meadow, The
by William Ryan

One Comment on "The Bloody Meadow"

  1. sakura
    07/11/2011 at 16:12 Permalink

    This looks very interesting. I’m particularly drawn to the 1930s in Russia as although I’m familiar with the 20s and 30s in Britain and Europe, not so much Russia. I’ve put the first in the series on my wishlist!

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Written by Ian

Ian is a medical academic with a long standing interest in books, particularly literary and crime fiction, as both a reader and a collector. He has published extensively in the scientific literature, mainly on nutrition. He has two grown-up children and lives in Ireland.

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