Black Sun

Written by Owen Matthews

Review written by Andrew Hill

A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.


Black Sun
Bantam Press
RRP: £16.99
Released: October 3 2019
HBK

KGB Major Alexander Vasin is sent to the mysterious city of Arzamas when a top-ranking atomic scientist dies in mysterious circumstances.

Arzamas is a secret city at the centre of Soviet Atomic research. It’s a city in stark contrast to everyday life inside the U.S.S.R. with its well-stocked shops and scientists drawn from all corners of the Mother country.

Former detective Vasin is sent to uncover how the scientist died. His boss, General Orlov, knows that Vasin is a tenacious investigator and will go to any lengths to find the truth.

What he discovers is a tangled web of petty (and real jealousies), and of a suicide that may be murder. There is a wall of silence and half-truths that disguise manoeuvres for power, attempts to mislead Vasin’s investigation and to conceal the truth of the building of the biggest nuclear weapon on Earth.

As Vasin slips ever closer to the truth, his marriage and career teeter on the edge of destruction.

The author has not only researched tenaciously, creating both believable characters and this unreal setting.

The inhabitants of Arzamas want for nothing. They have the best of everything and in abundance; even products proscribed by the State. It appears that nothing must get in the way of what the scientists and their technicians are working on.

Vasin is a conflicted character, driven by his need to discover what is behind the death of the scientist, whilst aware of the pressures coming from his superiors, the Party - and most crucially his marriage. But above all else, he is man on his own.

This is an involving and well-paced read. As the investigation gathers pace, there is a heightened anxiety and need to get to the truth, which is a prerequisite in an absorbing crime-thriller.

The authors sense of place and the claustrophobia of the Soviet State has strong echoes of William Ryan’s Korolev series, which is set in Stalinist Russia. I can’t think of no higher praise, for I what I hope will bring forth another adventure for Major Vasin



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