The Holy Thief Review
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1936 Moscow: a time of terror, when your crimes (both real and made up by those in control) can send you to the frozen camps of the far north called the Zone. Itís also a time when Stalin is rising to power and no one is safe from his whims. Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev is all too aware of this, and he must watch his every step as he investigates crimes for the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia. The very fact that he owns a Bible can send him to prisonóor worse.

At a deconsecrated church, the body of a young American woman lies bloody and mutilated on the altar. Korolev catches the case, and since the victim is an American, the NKVD (Russiaís most feared organization) becomes involved. Aware that his every move is scrutinized, Korolev tries to find the truth and discover who committed such an atrocious act.

More bodies turn up, leading Korolev deeper into Moscowís underworld, where one false move can turn his life into a living nightmare, which will then spread out and affect those he loves.

Superbly written, hauntingly terrifying, and historically fascinating, The Holy Thief is one of the reasons why Iíve grown to love historical mysteries. Author William Ryan richly illustrates the depressing atmosphere of 1936 Moscow, and the scenery is appropriately gray and downcast as the plot unfolds around an appalling crime in a country (and time) where the so-called good guys could have committed the act just as easily as the bad guys.

Inspiring and achingly real, Captain Alexei Korolev will capture your heart as he muddles through life, trying to shine a light and bring a spot of goodness to a place where only hopelessness rules. Heís in constant danger just by breathing Russian air, and I feared for him throughout The Holy Thiefóto the extent that I donít think I breathed until Iíd read the last page.

Few authors can bring a setting and its people to life in such a way that you can escape inside the story and live it right along with the characters, but William Ryan has done just that with The Holy Thief. Donít miss it!

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