Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Darkening Field

The Darkening Field

A Novel

Captain Alexei Korolev Novels (Volume 2)

William Ryan

Minotaur Books



Trade Paperback

A dedicated policeman caught in terrifying circumstances, Captain Alexei Korolev of the Moscow Militia, Criminal Investigations Department, may be unwavering in his outward party loyalty, but he is forever conflicted about what he must do to maintain that good standing.

It's 1937, and Korolev finds himself on an airplane bound for Odessa after the suspicious suicide of Maria Alexandrovna Lenskaya, a young party member who had an intimate relationship with the party director. Korolev has clear instructions: Find her killer, but under no circumstances may he reveal her ties to the director. The girl was working on the set of a movie, and the daunting pool of suspects includes the entire cast and crew as well as many locals. Korolev finds help from many surprising quarters, but none of them can make up for the one fact he cannot discuss.

The Darkening Field is another shocking and devastatingly true-to-history thriller from William Ryan.



It was snow, or sleet, or something in between—whatever it was, it swirled around them like smoke and seemed to freeze solid as soon as it hit fabric, coating their clothes with a white sheen. It had been...


Praise for The Darkening Field

Booklist lauded Ryan's first Korolev novel, The Holy Thief, and this successor fully delivers on the promise of that judgment. Korolev is a wonderful character, a spiritual ancestor of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko, persevering amid the murderous paranoia of Stalin's Russia. The plot is intricate, the action satisfying, and Ryan's use of period detail, including the brutal "collectivization" of the Ukraine and that region's nationalist and anarchist movements, makes for exhilarating reading.” —Booklist (starred review) on The Darkening Field

“One of the year's most exciting [debuts].... While the search for Russian icons will bring to mind Martin Cruz Smith's brilliant Gorky Park, Ryan puts a fresh, original spin on the briskly paced The Holy Thief delving into Soviet politics, culture and corruption.” —Oline H. Cogdill, Florida Sun-Sentinel on The Holy Thief

“Korolev also is a moral, compassionate man who becomes increasingly horrified by Soviet society... This is British writer William Ryan's first historical mystery... One hopes there is more of Korolev to come.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune on 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) on The Holy Thief

“Remarkable thriller.... 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.” —Library Journal on The Holy Thief

“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 Devil’s Company on The Holy Thief

In the Press

Read the Kirkus Review of THE DARKENING FIELD . In Stalinist Russia, a smart cop knows just how dangerous it is to be a smart cop. - Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

William Ryan

WILLIAM RYAN is author of The Holy Thief, which was a Barry Award nominee for Best First Novel and shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Born in London, Ryan attended Trinity College, Dublin, and completed his master's in creative writing at St. Andrews University. The Darkening Field is his second novel.

William Ryan



    Latest on Facebook


    From the Publisher

    Minotaur Books

    Latest on Facebook