Herlin returns to the revolutionary Russia of his earlier Grishin (1987) for a thriller about a trainload of Czarist gold bullion and an English effort to thwart the Bolsheviks. British mining millionaire Oliver Quinn's Russian hunting holiday ends abruptly with a call from John Fitzmaurice, head of His Majesty's Secret Service in Omsk. Without telling Quinn exactly what's up, Fitzmaurice prevails on Quinn to go to the mining town of Karmel to find out what happened to Tom Cutter, who has disappeared while on a mission for Fitzmaurice. Quinn agrees reluctantly to help out--despite the chaos of the current civil war and his enmity for Cutter, his onetime friend and fellow miner whom Quinn holds responsible for the death of his wife. When he reaches Karmel, Quinn finds the town held by grouchy Czechs working for the White Russians. Also in town are an American officer with possible Mafia connections, a few leftover aristocrats, and Moura Tourmanova, the ravishing redhead mentioned in Tom Cutter's last dispatch. Piecing together bits of intelligence, Quinn manages to figure out that Cutter was on the trail of the gold that once comprised the Czarist treasury but is told that the gold has vanished. His search for the missing bullion takes him to grimmest Perm, torture at the hands of the Cheka (forerunners of the KGB), solitary Bolshevik confinement, and back to Karmel, thinking more and more about Moura all the time. An intriguing, well-researched story that never really warms up and runs fast enough.