January 1917—With St. Petersburg on the brink of revolution, Sandro Ruzsky, the city’s chief police investigator, returns from exile in Siberia only to be assigned a grisly case: the bodies of a young couple found on the ice of the frozen River Neva, just outside the Tsar’s Winter Palace. Ruzsky’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the royal family and to the woman he loves, and he finds himself confronting both a ruthless killer and the ghosts of his past as he fights desperately to save all that he cares for.
With meticulous research and narrative skill Tom Bradby brilliantly re-creates the gilded salons and squalid tenements of St. Petersburg in the last days of the tsars. Evocative and thrilling, The White Russian is a tumultuous story of murder and betrayal in a city at the crossroads of history.
My Thoughts: I found this book completely by accident. It was on display at the library and the cover made me pick it up. It sounds like a book that would be right up my alley but it just wasn't as good as I expected it to be. The story started off really well as Ruszky is a really unique character. He is a prince who is estranged from his family and works for the Petrograd police department. He is a moral, upright guy in a cesspool of dishonesty and intrigue. He always tried to do the right thing even if it impacted him negatively. I found him to be a likeable character but he is portrayed as this really great investigator who at times completely misses everything that is going around him. There were times where I was surprised that the author portrayed him as a little slow on the uptake. It also could have been the author trying to show that he was a little naive but I am not so sure.
The mystery aspect of the story is intriguing in the beginning but starts to get confusing in the end. I don't know if this is because there were so many characters involved in the mystery or if it was a way to indicate how tumultous the times were. The author definitely did impart the urgency of the situation; the story is set weeks before the February Revolution will take place and Bradby did a good job of describing an empire on the brink of revolution.
I hated the ending. I am just going to say it. It wasn't what I expected and it was kind of abrupt and very sad. Also, the reader never finds out what happens to Ruszky after the mystery is dealt with and I really wanted to know more. I would have loved it if there had been an epilogue but oh well. Overall, an okay read. 3 stars.