Set in 1930, a former soldier must leave his quiet farm life in the outskirts of Soviet-controlled Ukraine to find his kidnapped niece.
British author Smith’s (Dark Horizons, 2011, etc.) latest thriller begins with Luka, a veteran of World War I and the Russian Civil War, discovering a mysterious stranger who is barely conscious and pulling a sled loaded with two dead children. When his neighbors in the small Ukrainian farming village learn of the children, Luka is unable to prevent the hastily formed mob from lynching the stranger. Luka’s inner turmoil increases when his brother-in-law (and the leader of the hanging party) realizes that his daughter is missing and it becomes clear that Luka is the one person who has the skill set to recover the missing girl. With the potential threat of an encroaching Soviet police force sweeping the countryside, Luka leaves his wife and daughter behind and sets out with his twin sons into the harsh Ukrainian wilderness. The stakes are raised when Luka realizes that the kidnapper is using the young girl as bait to lure Luka and his sons into a dangerous labyrinth where their own lives are continually threatened. The tension steadily increases as Luka uses his military training in a battle of wits with the unknown kidnapper, and the division between the hunter and the hunted becomes more and more blurry.
In a style that methodically builds suspense, Smith delivers the story of a hero able to rise to the challenge in the face of escalating troubles.