The Siberian Dilemma

[Amazon Link]

Reader note: If you find yourself slightly confused by what happens at the end of chapter 41 (as I was), it means you should have been paying more attention to the book's title and the discussion near the end of chapter 28 (as I should have). But I eventually remembered.

It's been about six years since the previous Arkady Renko novel. The sorta-girlfriend he acquired in the previous book, Tatiana, is still in a dangerous profession: truth-telling journalist in Russia. Arkady is still an investigator with the (hopelessly corrupt) Moscow police. And his semi-feral ward, Zenhya, is making a living from hustling chess matches.

Arkady is troubled that Tatiana has failed to return as scheduled from Siberia, where she was investigating corrupt oligarchs. (But it's in Russia, so I'm repeating myself.) In a slight coincidence, his boss Zubrin tells him to bring the "suspect" Aba Makhmud back to Moscow after obtaining a confession. His crime: assaulting Zubrin. Hm.

In Siberia, Arkady acquires some new allies and some powerful enemies. Nature is also an adversary: Siberia is cold, and the bears are mean.

It's a relatively short book (274 pages, big type, wide margins, blank pages) but it's a page turner. I especially enjoy Arkady's outlook on life: Russian-fatalistic, viewed with very dark, very dry humor.