Motherland by G.D Abson
Natalya Ivanova – Thriller #1
Motherland is the first in a gripping series of contemporary crime novels set in contemporary St Petersburg, featuring sharp and intriguing policewoman, Captain Natalya Ivanova.
Student Zena Dahl, the daughter of a Swedish millionaire, has gone missing in St Petersburg (or Piter as the city is colloquially known) after a night out with a friend. Captain Natalya Ivanova is assigned the case, making a change for Natalya from her usual fare of domestic violence work, but, because of the family’s wealth, there’s pressure for a quick result. But as she investigates she discovers that the case is not as straightforward as it may seem. Dark, violent and insightful, Motherland twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion.
Modern day Russia is an unusual setting and era for a crime fiction novel. Yet it really works, it adds to the mystery and intrigue of organised crime and citizens being silenced.
The novel opens in St Petersburg 1999, new years eve night. With Sasha, Kristina, Vova and 2yr old Ksenia. It is a vague prologue and we are given snippets of information. We become aware a character named Yuri left 3 months ago to serve on in a prison colony. But we are left wondering how these characters fit into the main plot, of the story.
The novel then jumps to June 2017, with Zena Dahl from Ostermalm (near Stockholm) Sweden. She is enjoying a night out with friend Yulia, when she is accosted by some males and nearly raped. Is this where Zena goes missing?
Natalya Ivanova is our protagonist for this series. She is currently a police officer working predominately with domestic violence. But in a country where the harshest sentence for such crime is 3hrs detention, she is fighting a losing battle. Natalya works for the criminal investigations directorate, dealing with serious crimes. She is a tough and ambitious cop and one you instantly like. Her husband Mikhail is also a senior detective and he has a son Anton now 18ys old. There is family drama regarding Anton’s future. No university placement means conscription!
Something the couple are keen to avoid for their son.
When Natalya is called out to a recent domestic assault, we see the true nature of her day to day case load. With 14 thousand women murdered by their partners every year, domestic violence is a prevalent problem in modern day Russia.
Natalya is pulled of the routine case to assist with the missing teenager. Zena Dahl maybe 19yrs old but she has a wealthy father and that makes her case top priority. Zena interviews her neighbours and alleged best friend, but the leads don’t point to some serious harm having come to Zena. Natalya knows if she cannot prove this, the case will be dropped. Zena’s welfare rests solely with Natalya.
Zena’s father Thorsten Dahl with his lawyer Anatoly Lagunov. We learn that Zena was adopted by Throsten at 18 months old, as a single father. He has links to the orphanage she was residing in due to the death of her parents. She took an instant shine to Thorsten and he decided to adopt her and give her opportunities she never would have had with a life in care.
“Zena is all I have and I am all she has” – Thorsten Dahl
This is a complex case at its heart. The story of a missing woman in a country that appears not to care too much for its female citizens. Natalya Ivanova is feisty and fiery, she refuses to be overlooked by or for her male counterparts. She refuses to tow the line in a country where money and bribes talk. . .
“It’s always about the money and yet you call yourselves patriots” – Natalya Ivanova
Darkest crimes in the deepest of pasts. 4*
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