Crime Fiction


Black Wolf

This new book by G.D. Abson triggered a lively discussion at our meeting.
Article text
Originally we’d thought a story set in Putin’s Russia would be interesting, and maybe even enlightening. Black Wolf is the second book by G.D. Abson. The follow-up to his well-received debut novel, Motherland, which also features Senior Investigator Captain Natalya Ivanova.

A young woman has been murdered in St Petersburg and is linked to an anti-Putin dissident group. Natalya Ivanova is the honest cop who has to run the case on the quiet because the security services have shut down her investigation.

Our group was almost evenly split on this book, so let’s start with the positive. With so much in the news about Russia nowadays, Calendar Girl felt the story's background seemed almost familiar (or at least, not totally strange) and this gave the book an extra edge. She thought the book was gritty and fast-paced, and loved the characters. She gives it 4+ Stars.

Bunny also enjoyed it, saying "Set in snowy Russia with interesting characters and relationships, I even felt chilly reading it! You don’t imagine people wearing thermals in Russia, and still freezing."

The rest of us didn't enjoy it so much. We’d looked forward to reading the book and thought there would be lots of interest, with the potential for a really good story. We agreed it is well written but we found the setting so grim, and the characters so unlikeable, that reading it was hard work. Putin’s Russia is a very depressing backdrop, with every page revealing more corruption and cruelty. And because the nastiness is unrelenting, by the end several of us didn't even like Natalya Ivanova.

Cornish Eskimo skipped through the final third of the book just to get to the end. Clover read all of it but says that after this she doesn’t want to know anything more about today’s Russia; and Freyja would give it a multi-minus-Star rating.

So there you have it. This was a book that generated a lot of discussion (and quite strong feelings) at our meeting. None of us was ambivalent about it. It was either love or hate. In the wider world it has received good reviews, and G.D. Abson is clearly a rising star. Many of us, however, just wished we could have liked it a bit more.

If you enjoy reading crime fiction why not come along to one of our meetings? They’re on the third Friday of every month, 2.30pm @ Oundle Library. It’s all very informal because we don’t have a set reading list. We do, however, enjoy a wide-ranging chat about the books we’ve read and enjoyed. Everyone welcome!