Here, from the author of Black Plume: The Suppressed Memoirs of Edgar Allan Poe (1980), the story of an American private investigator who goes to work on a grisly murder case in US-occupied, post-perestroika Moscow. The setting for this totally beguiling thriller is so clever that it could stand without the plot. Imagine a Soviet Union that has given up Leninism, having lost to the Americans after a nuclear attack. Americans have occupied the country and are running the machinery of government--such as it is--until the Russians can carry out a free election. Western businessman have descended upon Moscow like a plague of magpies, and the Russians are trying to cope with the complexities of instant consumerism. Among the Americans looking for a fast ruble is Dean Joplin, a spying instructor no longer needed by the CIA. He's hung out his shingle as a private investigator in the former land of the KGB, and he has a new case. An ex-student still with the government as part of the occupying management team is having troubles with a murder case and wants Dean to tackle the problem. The body of a Russian national has been found in a luxury hotel with his throat very roughly sawed open. Nobody can get anywhere with the case. Nobody even knows who the late gentleman really was. But Joplin is very good. He's quickly on to the identity and a trail--which leads through dachas and squatter camps ever nearer to the quarantined countryside that surrounds the nuclear impact zone where millions of Russians wait to learn the truth about radiation. There are endless bouts with the Russian character, as welt as a romantic entanglement with the very attractive wife of Joplin's ever more unbalanced client. Hanging over every page is the bizarre and growing specter of election-day festivities to be managed in the American fashion by Mr. David Wolper. Irresistible.