Political oppression leads to murder, suicide and family upheaval.
Commander Jana Matinova of the Slovak Criminal Police has seven dead bodies on her hands: six prostitutes and their pimp, all murdered in a car. Then yet another woman is found dead, this time in the Danube. The cases hint at illegal slave trafficking from Albania and Russia, using Bratislava as the conduit. Jana’s superior officer Trokan sends her off to a Strasbourg conference on prostitution. There she teams up with Levitin, a Russian, when two of the speakers meet with death by icepick and EU representative Moira Simmons asks to be kept informed of the investigation. Alliances will form and re-form while Jana and Levitin try to focus on the rarely seen master criminal Koba and arrange meetings with Jana’s estranged daughter—who wrongly believes her mother murdered her father out of political expediency—and Levitin’s lapsed sister, now swanning about at the Friends of Russia Ball in Nice under a new protector. Solving the international murder-without-borders scheme becomes a puzzle even Agatha Christie would have been proud of, although the denouement is a lot fiercer.
Grim but undeniably believable in its depiction of secret police sweeps, hounded political protesters and the compromises necessary to redeem a disgraced career. Not your usual wispy escapism, but well worthwhile for current-events junkies.