Anne Bonny #BlogTour Character Profile ~Natalya Ivanova ~ Black Wolf by @garry_abson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Russia #NatalyaIvanova #BlackWolf @TheMirrorBooks

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Black Wolf by G.D Abson

Synopsis ~

A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.

Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

Character Profile Natalya Ivanova ~

The hero of my series, Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova, lives in Vladimir Putin’s birthplace of Saint Petersburg (actually there is some doubt that Putin was even born a Russian citizen, but that’s another story). After spending her teenage years in Germany, Natalya has become an idealist, a European liberal who refuses to adapt to morally grey Russia; something that isn’t a problem for her pragmatic husband Mikhail, a more senior officer in the Criminal Investigations Directorate.

In MOTHERLAND, the first in the series, a disillusioned Natalya is responding to domestic violence calls, knowing the offenders will only be prosecuted in the most serious cases. When a Swedish student goes missing, she’s offered a chance to run a major investigation. The theme of MOTHERLAND, though, is of corruption. Webster’s dictionary describes it as powerful people engaging in illegal or dishonest behaviour, but there’s an older sense too, of corruption as an agent of decay. And while Natalya wants to be an idealist fighting the corrupt elite of the Russian establishment, the decay leaves no one untouched, not even an investigator and her family.

When a young woman’s half-frozen body is found by a road in BLACK WOLF, and the woman turns out to be a member of the Decembrists – a secretive group of anti-government activists – Natalya’s idealism goes into hyperdrive. She sees a killer at work despatching people she has more in common with than her own colleagues. After being removed form the case, she refuses to stop. As for the black wolf of the title, that’s Natalya. In this exchange with her superior, Lieutenant Colonel Dostoynov, he forces her to confront the darker origins of her idealism.

Dostoynov chuckled. ‘Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of a black wolf, Ivanova?’
‘No, Colonel.’
‘It’s a mutation caused by wolves mating with dogs in the distant past. Black wolves are outcasts, destined to be neither one thing nor the other. The wolves in their pack attack them for being different and they are shot for their trouble when seeking human company. That’s you, Ivanova. The Decembrists don’t trust you, and neither do we.’
‘Yes, Colonel.’
‘The interesting point though, Ivanova, is that despite outward appearances there is little difference between a black wolf and a grey – merely a few genes for the colour of the pelt. As for you, there is no record of you attending anti-government demonstrations or joining political groups. You rail against corruption, while married to an officer under investigation, and you live in an apartment beyond both of your means. Do you know what I think?’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘There you are again with your little quips. I’ll tell you though, because it’s clear to anyone who looks at your file. Your rebellion started when your parents divorced. You were a resentful teenager who listened to punk long after it was fashionable. You hated your mother for bringing you back to Piter, and your father and sister for letting her do it. You think you’re fighting the Russian state, but you’re fighting your own family.’

Garry Abson
G.D. Abson
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Motherland by @garry_abson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Russia #NatalyaIvanova #NewSeries #Debut @TheMirrorBooks ‘Darkest crimes in the deepest of pasts’

9781907324833
Motherland by G.D Abson
Natalya Ivanova – Thriller #1

Review copy
Synopsis:

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.

My Review:

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*

Garry Abson
G.D. Abson
Twitter

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