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The Holy Thief

Korolev Mysteries Book 1

3.69 based on 1480 ratings & 211 reviews on Goodreads.com

2011 Short-listed

Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award

2011 Long-listed

Waverton Good Read Award

2010 Short-listed

CWA New Blood Dagger

Synopsis

As Stalin's Great Terror begins, a killer strikes . . .

Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, is asked to investigate. But when he discovers that the victim is an American citizen, the NKVD - the most feared organisation in Russia - becomes involved.

As more bodies are discovered and the pressure from above builds, Korolev begins to question who he can trust; and who, in this Russia where fear, uncertainty and hunger prevails, are the real criminals. Soon, Korolev will find not only his moral and political ideals threatened, but also his life . . .

Shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year and the Irish Fiction Award.

In the media

It is rare to meet a genuinely exciting new voice in crime fiction. Ex-City lawyer William Ryan should definitely give up the day job, because he is a writer through and through, and in this first novel he establishes what promises to be a rewarding series. Ryan's research is impressive . . . More importantly, the way his people think and speak under duress has the feel of eye-witness reportage. The city life - the feral street-children who have a ragged copy of Sherlock Holmes, the thugs who run the underworld that flourishes under the biggest thug of all, Stalin - is terrifyingly believable, while scenes like that of a pathologist and police-photographer chummily swigging post-mortem vodka out of sample jars give a tragicomic sense of humanity preserved. Ryan writes with narrative drive and urgency, real sense of place, and a central character who is conflicted, moral, and above all likeable. Any one of these things is a rarity; the combination is whodunnit heaven
Times Literary Supplement
A first novel written with all the narrative assurance of someone who'd been perfecting his art for years. A thriller set amid the paranoia of 1930s Moscow, it was persuasive in all its local and historical details, told its tense story with style and aplomb and had an engagingly troubled hero
Irish Independent
This debut is a powerful tale set in 1930s Russia ... it's atmospheric, beautifully written and meticulously researched
Irish Examiner