``I was never going back to Moscow,'' vows allegedly cheerful New York cop Artie Cohen. It's been something of a mantra for him ever since he emigrated 25 years ago: No more Mother Russia, no more family friends, nothing to do with more recent ÇmigrÇs. But when ex-KGB Gen. Gennadi Ustinov, a colleague of Artie's father, is assassinated on The Teddy Flowers Show the day after he calls Artie--and the day before they agree to meet- -Artie feels himself getting pulled back: first to scrutinize Ustinov's fellow-guests on the show (wheeler-dealer Anatoly Sverdloff, stripper Olga Gross, capitalist success story Tomas Saroyan, fascist Leonid Zalenko, Muscovite British writer Gavin Crowe), then to check out the Russian community in Brighton Beach (think gangsters, borscht, and street crime), and suddenly-- whoosh!--right past the assassin (who, after all, was caught on videotape) to a plot involving some villainous stuff called red mercury (``fear in a bottle'') that has arms dealers around the globe standing at attention. Inevitably, the trail will lead to a secret laboratory and an uninhibited new lover in (where else?) Moscow. A louring debut for fans of Martin Cruz Smith and Philip Kerr--though Nadelson spins a much shaggier tale than either of his models, with new complications coming down the street every ten minutes.