When the corpse of a distinguished general and presidential adviser is found, attached to an advertising balloon, lieutenant Viktor Slutsky is sent in to investigate. Meanwhile, KGB officer Nik Tsensky arrives in Kiev for a secret mission.
A larger-than-life hitman, bombs under furniture, a hearse, a deaf-and-dumb blonde, a tortoise and a parrot all play a part as Kurkov evokes a world of secret militia not seen before in Western fiction.
An ebullient black comedy... Reminiscent of the best Soviet dissident literature
Full of touches of grim insight and tactful surrealism, with just enough of the absurd to suggest a cross between John le Carre's Smiley and Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita
Kurkov is a fine satirist and a real, blackly comic find
Kurkov flips from mock-tragedy to comedy and back again, planting the ominous and the absurd neatly among deadpan descriptions of a daily life in denial
Kurkov received universal praise for his debut novel Death and the Penguin... Kurkov's latest is better