After four high-tech thrillers (The Last High Ground, 1995, etc.), White does a star turn with a detective story set in...



After four high-tech thrillers (The Last High Ground, 1995, etc.), White does a star turn with a detective story set in post-communist Siberia. Three years ago, Gregori Nowek--a geologist whose criticisms of Soviet oil-drilling got him banished to frozen Irkutsk--was elected mayor of his new town with the slogan ""Can I Do Any Worse?"" Still mourning wife Nina, who died in a plane crash, he has failed to make peace with his teenage daughter, Galena, or with the gleefully corrupt world of the new Russia. One spring day, Nowek's asked by his Moscow superior, Arkady Volsky, to investigate the murder of Andrei Ryzkhov, a wealthy local liaison with AmerRus, the American-Russian cooperative drilling for ""Siberian light"" crude oil in the Tunguska fields. Not only was Ryzkhov's throat cut, but two of the city's police militamen were similarly slaughtered. Nowek's inquiries are discouraged by ex-KGB Major Kaznin and by the coolly cruel Irkjutsk prosecutor, Gromov, who worries that a scandal would disturb the flow of bribes coming from AmerRus. Nowek perseveres, his geologist's eye uncovering clues that Major Kaznin ""missed."" These lead him to Tunguska, site of the AmerRus drilling base, where, unknown to him, his daughter has been abducted by a lecherously lethal American AmerRus worker, Paul Decker. Tunguska is also home to an endangered species of Siberian tigers under the watchful eye of Dr. Anna Vereskaya, now a murder suspect. Nowek falls in love, but, predictably, his struggle to prove Anna innocent, rescue his daughter from her loathesome paramour, and deal with AmerRus's secret reason for exploiting Siberia--all bring forth resources of character that Nowek wasn't aware he had. The climax is labored, though it supports White's thesis that no change of economy will stop bad guys from being very bad. Almost, but not quite, a rewrite of Gorky Park, enlived throughout by hilarious looks at the old regime, at mud-splattered Siberia, and at the irrepressible vileness of human greed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0440224608

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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