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Volk's Game (2007)
Suppose I told you that Lee Child's insanely over-the-top cover blurb on this book--"Brent Ghelfi writes like Dostoevsky's hooligan great-grandson on speed"--actually isn't far wide of the mark? Alexei Volkovoy--the Volk of the title--returned to Russia from the war in Chechnya minus a leg, plus a lover, and ended up serving two masters: an Azeri mafioso and "The General," who lends him some legitimacy and state protection. True to these divided loyalties, Volk cares for his own brood of widows and orphans, but he's also a brutal killer, a thief, and, in some scenes that make for difficult reading, a torturer when need be.
This first installment in what looks to be a series revolves around a plot to steal a forgotten Da Vinci, Leda and the Swan, from the Hermitage. But the initial caper goes wrong in a hurry and Volk and his lover are caught between warring factions, all of whom want the masterpiece, as does Volk himself. The pace is brisk, the action ultraviolent and the portrait of modern Russia deeply disturbing, if not depressing. This is a pretty good rookie effort -- though the hero/anti-hero needs to be brought into better focus -- and Mr. Ghelfi shows every sign of getting better as he goes along. May as well get on board the Volk express now; looks like it's going places.
-BOOK SITE: Volk's Game (MacMillan)
-VIDEO: Volk'sa Game (YouTube)
-INTERVIEW: with Brent Ghelfi (Marshal Zeringue , May 23, 2007, Writer Interviews)
-INTERVIEW: with Brent Ghelfi (Kerry Lengel, Jun. 27, 2008, The Arizona Republic)
-REVIEW: of Volk's Game by Brent Ghelfi (Gilbert Cruz, Entertainment Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Volk's Game (Pat Austin, EuroCrime)
-REVIEW: of Volk's Game (Sandy Mitchell, Suite 101)
-REVIEW: of Volk's Game ( Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter)
-REVIEW: of Volk's Game (Andy Plonka, Mystery Reader)
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