Captain Alexei Korolev has nothing to complain about. He has his own room in an apartment, a job in the police force that puts food on the table, and his good health. In Moscow in 1937, that’s a lot more than most people have to be grateful for. But for the first time in a long time, Korolev is about to be truly happy: his son Yuri is coming to visit for an entire week.
Shortly after Yuri’s arrival, however, Korolev receives an urgent call from his boss—it seems an important man has been murdered, and Korolev is the only detective they’re willing to assign to this sensitive case. In fact, Korolev realizes almost immediately that the layers of sensitivity and secrecy surrounding this case far exceed his paygrade. And the consequences of interfering with a case tied to State Security or the NKVD can be severe—you might lose your job, if you’re lucky. Your whole family might die if you’re not. Korolev is suddenly faced with much more than just discovering a murderer’s identity; he must decide how far he’ll go to see justice served . . . and what he’s willing to do to protect his family.
In The Twelfth Department, William Ryan's portrait of a Russian policeman struggling to survive in one of the most volatile and dangerous eras of modern history is mesmerizing.
“Ryan's tense, tightly plotted whodunnits feel gloriously plausible, a function of the intimate link he forges between his readers and his characters, never mind that those characters are living through extraordinary times.”—The Guardian
“Ryan’s latest has a fine cast of characters, puzzling murders, interesting police work, and a strong sense of the terror that pervaded Stalin’s Russia. But it is his eye for period detail (e.g., scheming apparatchiks who denounce a neighbor simply to move into a larger apartment) that makes this one special.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The Twelfth Department is the third outing for William Ryan’s increasingly impressive Captain Korolev series…There’s an Orwellian influence to the manipulation of language and meaning…The geographical setting and political backdrop are compelling enough, but Korolev is a fascinating character in his own right, an army veteran of “the German War” who acknowledges the poisonous nature of the regime he serves even as he clings to the hope that its propaganda might some day chime with reality.”—The Irish Times
“Excellent…While the police work will keep readers engaged, the series’ chief strength comes from Ryan’s skillful evocation of everyday life under Stalin.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)