DEADLY GAMES by Fridrikh & Edward Topol Neznansky


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In Red Square (1983, by the same ÉmigrÉ authors in reverse order), Special Investigator Shamrayev of the Public Prosecutor's office looked into a Moscow tourder--and exposed a convoluted plot against Brezhnev. This time, in a much less intriguing tangle, he searches for a missing journalist--and exposes an extensive drug-ring with high-up connections. It's June 1979; Vadim Belkin, Brezhnev's ""favorite journalist,"" disappears, just a week before the Carter/Brezhnev SALT talks in Vienna. So it's up to Shamrayev to find Belkin quickly--with two major clues: a murdered drug-addict, last seen with Belkin; and a fictionalized manuscript left behind by Belkin--all of which is printed here, resulting in a tedious pace and unnecessary repetition. Belkin's novelized report tells of his sleuthing in the Baku area, his discovery of huge opium shipments (via plane, smuggled in coffins), his brutal treatment from local authorities. And eventually, after connecting these revelations to another murder (an old woman's suffocation), Shamrayev pieces together the entire drugs/money/jewelry network, linking it to the head of the Chief Pharmaceutical Authority. (""And the involvement of even higher-placed officials couldn't be ruled out."") But, since the USSR doesn't want its widespread drugproblems exposed, Shamrayev's findings are kept under wraps. . . while poor Belkin (who was captured by a side-dealing faction within the drug-ring) is now railroaded into an MVD ""Special Hospital."" The subject of USSR drug-abuse--and its governmental concealment--is a strongly promising one. Here, however, with most of the plot-secrets revealed right from the start, that potential is lost in a labored, static investigation--only sporadically enlivened by savvy evocations of USSR backgrounds (e.g., the Baku bus station) and bureaucracies.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Quartet--dist. by Merrimack (47 Pelham Rd., Salem, NH 03079)