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21 November 2018

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Volk's Shadow

A nice, fast-paced thriller that rides the wave of paranoia brought to us courtesy of Putin, Inc. It is just the right length and depth to fill a transcontinental plane ride, and offers some good twists. The premise – crime syndicates wrapped around international alliances, corrupt businessmen and only slightly less corrupt cops – holds water and the hero, Volkovoy, is fairly believable and sympathetic. That said, Ghelf does have a few minor gaffes. And, like all authors in the genre, he slides in a graph here and there in The Voice of Experience, offering knowing summations on The Russian Conundrum. But these are minor quibbles; in toto, Ghelfi should be given high marks for respecting readers' intelligence, and for expressing almost Le Carre-like moral ambivalence about Chechnya, and about things Russian in general.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: Mar/Apr 2009