The Holy Thief

A Novel

Captain Alexei Korolev Novels (Volume 1)

William Ryan

Minotaur Books

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“A subtle, superb mystery, a wonderful central character and with a sense of place and period to rival even the greatest of the Russian masters. More please!” –Kate Mosse, author of New York Times bestsellers Labyrinth and Sepulchre
 
Moscow, 1936. A young nun is found brutally murdered in the sacristy of a small church. Soon afterwards, a Thief found hanging under the bleachers of Tomsky Stadium bears the same gruesome trademarks. Detective Alexei Korolev, captain of Moscow Militia's Criminal Investigative Division, must identify the victims, uncover the truth, and, if possible, stay alive while doing it. But navigating his way through shifting party loyalties while making sure not to ruffle the feathers of Stalin's ever-watchful NKDV makes an already daunting task almost impossible. When the evidence starts to point toward an underground hunt for the greatest relic of Russia—the long-disappeared Kazanskaya—he becomes increasingly skeptical about the Soviet system and about whether he can live through the case.

This incredibly sophisticated and page-turning debut created significant in-house excitement and caused us to preempt the series forty-eight hours after the submission. Rights to the series have already been sold—via preempts most of the time—in the UK (Macmillan), France (Editions des Deux Terres), Germany (Heyne), Spain (Roca), Poland (ZNAK), Italy (Cairo), and Serbia (Alnari). The thrilling novel calls to mind Gorky Park and Child 44, but remains Ryan's alone. He expertly captures texture and period detail, yet wears his research lightly. Satisfying, entertaining and a complete immersion in Stalinist Russia, The Holy Thief marks the arrival of an astonishing new writer.

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CHAPTER ONE
It was later than usual when Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev climbed the steps in front of Number 38 Petrovka Street, headquarters of the Moscow Militia’s Criminal Investigation Division. The morning had started badly, wasn’t getting any better and he still hadn’t shaken off the pounding vodka headache from the night before, so it was with weary resignation rather than Stakhanovite enthusiasm that he pushed open one of the heavy oak doors. It took his eyes, dazzled from walking into the flat morning sun, a moment to adjust to the relative darkness of the vestibule,

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The Holy Thief by William Ryan--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to this audiobook excerpt from William Ryan's mystery novel The Holy Thief. Moscow, 1936, and Stalin's Great Terror is just beginning. In a church, a woman is found dead, her body on display. Captain Alexei Korolev of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia is assigned, but the NKVD is watching and exile is a real possibility. Committed to the case, Korolev enters the realm of the Thieves, rulers of Moscow's underworld.

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Praise for The Holy Thief

"Impressive.... Ryan, who merits comparison to Tom Rob Smith, makes palpable the perpetual state of fear of being reported as disloyal, besides dramatizing the difficulty of being an honest cop in a repressive police state. Readers will hope Korolev has a long career ahead of him."
 
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
"In his solitude and resolve, Ryan’s Korolev evokes Martin Cruz Smith’s fierce Arkady Renko, while the period detail and gore call to mind Tom Rob Smith. Remarkable thriller..."
 
--Library Journal (starred review)
 
"William Ryan brilliantly captures the eerie paranoia of Stalinist Moscow, which serves as an endlessly fascinating background for his compelling tale. This is a non-stop page-turner and a remarkable debut."
 
--David Liss, author of The Whiskey Rebels
 
“A subtle, superb mystery, a wonderful central character and with a sense of place and period to rival even the greatest of the Russian masters. More please!”
 
--Kate Mosse, author of Sepulchre

"With The Holy Thief, Ryan establishes himself as a fresh voice, rendering the snow-slicked streets of Thirties' Moscow with brilliant clarity. His picture of Captain Korolev as a conflicted, yet loyal, state servant is acutely real, as is his world, slouching toward terror and war. A masterful evocation of a dark time, wrapped around an even darker mystery, The Holy Thief does its magic on the head as well as the nerves.”

--Olen Steinhauer, author of The Nearest Exit

“A powerhouse debut, intricately plotted, tautly written, richly imagined. With effortless, page-turning ease Ryan leads us into the mirror-world of 1930s Stalinist Russia where nothing is quite what it seems and no one is quite who they claim to be. For Captain Alexei Korolev of the Moscow Militia, the price of failure is a bullet through the head—and so is the price of success. Thrilling.”

--Paul Sussman, author of The Hidden Oasis
 
“A first-rate crime novel: a genuinely memorable detective, powerful story and a seamlessly convincing setting. William Ryan is the real thing.”
 
–A. L. Kennedy, author of Day
 
"The Holy Thief is an utterly compelling and beautifully lucid novel, in which murder, history and suspicion combine to create an atmosphere of ever-increasing and constantly shifting suspense."
 
--John Burnside, author of The Glister
 
 

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About the Author

William Ryan

WILLIAM RYAN was born in London in 1965 and attended Trinity College, Dublin. He practiced briefly as a barrister before completing his Masters in Creative Writing at St Andrews University. His work has appeared in the short story collection, Cool Britannia. He lives in London with his wife. The Holy Thief  is his first novel.

William Ryan

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Holy Thief
A Novel
William Ryan

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Minotaur Books
August 2010
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429966030
ISBN10: 1429966033
352 pages
$7.99

Unabridged Digital Audio

Unabridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
August 2010
Unabridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781427210401
ISBN10: 1427210403
Audio Run Time: 10:00
$19.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
Minotaur Books
November 2011
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312552695
ISBN10: 0312552696
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 352 pages
$21.99
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Minotaur Books

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