In September 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Russia was one of the most deadly countries in which to be a journalist, and that their murders are rarely solved. Hundreds of journalists have been murdered or disappeared, the majority of whom were critical of the Russian ruling hierarchy.
In 2006, after filing stories critical of Vladimir Putin and the handling of the crisis in Chechnya, correspondent Anna Politkovskaya was killed in the elevator of her apartment building, shot four times at point-blank range. Her murder has not been solved.
The developers were hardly the only ones to want Tatiana out of the way. Her reporting from Chechnya fearlessly fingered the Russian government. Arkady also discovers some mysterious connections to the Baltic seaport city of Kaliningrad, a sort of Wild East town where gangsters run rampant. How might Tatiana's death be connected to the murder of a translator who had been working in Kaliningrad?
|Kaliningrad railroad station|
I'm glad Smith doesn't just crank out another entry in the series every year, but takes his time and puts together a story that is both well-imagined and -constructed. As a mystery and as a heartfelt tribute to Anna Politkovskaya––who lived a full and meaningful life, and never gave up the fight, despite being in constant danger––Tatiana makes rewarding reading. This isn't a book I'll soon forget. Readers who are not familiar with the series can read this book without reading the predecessors first, but will be slightly disadvantaged by not knowing the backgrounds of some of the characters in Arkady's life.
Note: I received a free review copy of Tatiana. Versions of this review may appear on Amazon, goodreads and other review sites under my usernames there.