The Twelfth Department

William Ryan

2013 Nominee

Bord Gáis Energy Crime Fiction Book of the Year

2013 Nominee

CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger

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10 April 2014
639 minutes
Sean Barrett

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.

‘For some time the talented Ryan has been among the very best crime novelists working in a period setting and if your taste is for similar fare by Martin Cruz Smith or Philip Kerr in which an honest sleuth tries to do his best in a corrupt foreign regime you should not hesitate. The dogged Korolev is a police investigator and works in the dark years of Stalin's Great Terror. The dictator does not like him but is aware that the detective's past in the tsarist regime was distinguished by his immense skills and calls upon Korolev to solve a variety of problems: tasks which tax the conscience of this diligent Russian copper, always forced to walk a tightrope between duty and simple survival . . . The first two outings for Ryan's sleuth, The Holy Thief and The Bloody Meadow, met with almost universal acclaim and were shortlisted for a variety of prizes. It will be absolutely no surprise if this gleans similar praise. Once again the balance of pungent period detail and increasingly tense plotting are handled with total authority and Korolev remains one of the most persuasively conflicted characters in crime fiction’ Daily Express

'The shooting murder of Boris Azarov, a high-level Russian scientist conducting secret psychological research, propels Ryan’s excellent third pre-WWII thriller featuring Alexei Korolev, a Moscow CID detective . . . While the police work will keep readers engaged, the series’ chief strength comes from Ryan’s skillful evocation of everyday life under Stalin' Publishers Weekly starred review

'Ryan’s latest has a fine set of characters, puzzling murders, interesting police work, and a strong sense of

the terror that pervaded Stalin’s Russia. But it is his eye for period detail that makes this one special' Booklist starred review