In this debut thriller, a Russian woman trying to save her sister races to retrieve a powerful device from its aquatic hiding spot.
It’s Nadia Laksheva’s commitment-free relationship with the wrong man that gets her a 10-year prison sentence. Her ticket out is Kadinsky, a gangster who already has Nadia’s older sister, Katya, under his thumb. Admiring Nadia’s resolve, Kadinsky makes her an offer: if she handles 10 operations for him over five years, the sisters will owe him nothing and be free to go. A half-decade later, Nadia’s final mission is in London, stealing the Rose (short for Rosetta), a translator device that can detect, track, and send commands to any nuclear sub. A double-cross, however, puts Nadia on the run with the Rose, which she’s forced to dump in the deep waters near the Scilly Isles. Recovering the Rose, to hand it over to Kadinsky and ensure Katya’s safety, requires help from diver Jake Saunders, an ex–MI6 intelligence analyst enlisted by the agency to find the Rose. But it seems everyone wants the object, from a rogue CIA agent to a Russian freelance assassin, each more deadly than the next. Kirwan, a diver himself, meticulously and poetically details the recurring diving sequences: “The water was featureless,” and Nadia “felt like a parachutist dropping through green-blue sky.” But even these scenes, like the story overall, are filled with unrelenting signs of peril; the Rose is at the same depth a diver would begin suffering effects of oxygen poisoning. The strong protagonist is just one of several well-rounded characters; she’s tenacious but hasn’t yet murdered anyone and is reluctant to start, fearing she’ll become a killer like her father. A sundry of perspectives finally comes together by the final act, which results in confrontations and quite a few deaths as well as an ending primed for a sequel.
A hearty mix of suspense, action, and a bit of espionage.