The Twelfth Department
Bord Gáis Energy Crime Fiction Book of the Year
CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger
Hides some of Stalin's darkest secrets . . .
Shortlisted for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for Best Historical Crime Novel of the Year.
Shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year.
Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer.
It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors' dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realize that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he's caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD. And then his son Yuri goes missing . . .
A desperate race against time, set against a city gripped by Stalin's Great Terror and teeming with spies, street children and Thieves, The Twelfth Department confirms William Ryan as one of the most compelling historical crime novelists.
‘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’ Guardian
‘Set in Moscow in the 1930s, 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 in The Twelfth Department, while Korolev’s quest to uncover the “facts” of his investigation ensures that he soon resembles a pawn kicked around the board by warring superiors. 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’ Irish Times
‘This is the third William Ryan novel to feature Moscow detective Alexei Korolev during Stalin's reign of terror, and it's as richly satisfying as its two predecessors . . . As in the earlier books, Korolev is an engagingly flawed hero . . . Ryan's achievement is to make his characters and their milieu so tangibly immediate that you feel you're actually in their presence. Obviously his historical research has been considerable, but he's managed the rare feat of subsuming it into his narrative in such a way that it's never obtrusive – you really do have the sensation of being on that particular street or in that particular apartment block or municipal building alongside Korolev, his tenacious sidekick Slivka or any of the other vividly realised characters who inhabit the book. The Holy Thief, published in 2010, was an immensely assured introduction to this police detective and his perilous Moscow beat; The Bloody Meadow (2011) confirmed that first book's promise; and The Twelfth Department is even more engrossing, especially for those readers who've come to regard Korolev as a trusted friend and sceptical moral guardian in an otherwise unsettling world’ Irish Independent