Released on 04 March 2011.

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The Holy Thief

3.69 based on 1568 ratings & 219 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

Moscow, 1936 and Stalin's Great Terror is beginning. In a deconsecrated Church, a young woman is found dead, her mutilated body displayed on the altar for all to see.

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 . . .

In the media

Ryan's first detective novel confidently re-creates a paranoid society where mutual suspicion is the norm . . . The Holy Thief is an absorbing and assured debut
Sunday Times
A first-rate crime novel: a genuinely memorable detective, powerful story and a seamlessly convincing setting. William Ryan is the real thing.
A.L. Kennedy
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