Monday, December 17, 2012

Snowdrops by A. D. Miller

I finally got around to reading this Man Booker 2011 shortlist title, and I'm so glad I did. I usually like Man Booker shortlisters, I often like a book set in Russia, several customers had read and recommended it, so I was a little worried about it living up to expectations. Phew-- what a relief that it completely sucked me in with its sharp writing, suspenseful storytelling, and completely evocative and atmospheric style.
This contemporary novel is told as Nick/Kolya's confession to his fiancee before their wedding. It chronicles a London lawyer's fourth and final expat year in the depraved but beautiful, captivating yet horrifying Wild Wild East of Moscow, where bribes are necessary for everything, who you know could make or break you, and people really might do the unthinkable.
Miller doles out pithy and clever descriptions as well as heartbreaking statements about midlife, ambition, and love. The emotion is powerful and fascinating.
From the beginning, we know that a corpse has been uncovered near Kolya's flat. ("Snowdrops" are, in addition to flowers, corpses that are discovered after the snow melts in Russia.) This lends a sense of suspense and lurking danger throughout the story.
But the story is not a murder mystery; it is a love story, a story of intrigue and manipulation, and a business cautionary tale.
I found this well-written and gripping, if rather bleak. Bundle up, pour yourself some cocoa with a shot of vodka, and hunker down for a read-in-one-sitting winter's indulgence.
For more about Snowdrops (and to find it at an indie bookstore near you), click here

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