Intra-Kremlin rivalries bring murder and the threat of diplomatic disaster to San Francisco, host city to the fledgling United Nations in the last days of WW II. In Black Dragon (1988), Mitchell took a clever look at the interned California Japanese and the theft of their land. Now he's peering at the little expatriate Russian colony in San Francisco where homicide detective John Kost, nÇ Ivan Kostoff in Moscow, is trying to sort out the murder-suicide of longshoreman William Laska and his wife. The domestic tragedy also claimed the life of the patrolman who answered Mrs. Laska's call for help. Kost wants to know why there were no other policemen around to help and why the doorknobs at the Laskas' house were wiped clean of fingerprints. He's got to juggle his inquiry with his extraordinary assignment of guarding the Soviet delegation to the UN conference. The delegation includes a crippled ballerina, wife of the local vice consul and a woman in the image of Kost's own late wife. She has come as part of a scheme managed by the odious Laventry Beria, head of the KGB and archrival of Foreign Minister Molotov, also part of the delegation. When Kost is not tracking down KGB goons, babysitting the Soviets, turning up bombs, or comforting the ballerina, he has to take care of his father, a Don Cossack who never married Kost's gypsy mother and who, were he not such a boozer, would take on all of the visiting Bolshies--including a murderous Chekist with ties to the Kostoff's ancient past. Extremely entertaining. Immensely passionate. Very Russian.