There’s a nice review on the excellent Milo’s Rambles crime-writing blog (which is always worth a look-see).
And another very positive write-up on It’s a Crime (or a Mystery) – another great crime writing website
There was a good mention in Metro’s New Crime Books to Try feature last Friday:
‘William Ryan convincingly pitched us into the Kafkaesque labyrinth of 1930s Stalinist Russia with last year’s The Holy Thief – his troubled Moscow militia detective risking the gulag as he uncovered crimes at high levels. In The Bloody Meadow Korolev is dispatched to film set in the Ukraine to dig into the supposed suicide of a young, pretty ‘model citizen’ with powerful connections . . . Korolev’s struggle to stay sane in a world gone mad is intriguing’
But Barry Forshaw in The Daily Express was even more generous on the same day:
After surviving encounters with corrupt officials in William Ryan’s much-acclaimed debut novel The Holy Thief, the intuitive Captain Alexei Korolev finds that rather than being dead or imprisoned he wins the day and is acclaimed a shining example for the Soviet people. He is even decorated.
Alexei is however all too well aware that nothing good in the communist Soviet Union is to be trusted and the dangerous information he has gathered in his activities has left him in a perilous position.
If the authorities discover the extent of his investigations an ice-cold future in a Siberian prison camp beckons. Soviet citizens of this era learned to dread the knock at the door in the wee small hours but when Alexei hears that knock on a snowy Moscow night it is not the catastrophe he expected.
NKVD Security Chief Colonel Rodino is the nocturnal visitor asking him to investigate the apparent suicide of a model citizen. Maria Lenskaya has died during the making of a film in the Ukraine and her death is a matter of great interest to the sinister Ezhov, commissar for state security.
The film Maria was making, the eponymous Bloody Meadow, is still shooting and when Alexei arrives on the movie set he soon finds himself in a dangerous situation with something unsayable – the failure of the revolution – the key to the mystery. Some authors and publishers live in fear of their second book. The dread springs from the readers’ familiar refrain: “That first book was so good… what went wrong?”
Nobody will be asking that question about The Bloody Meadow, every bit as darkly compelling as its predecessor with all the elements that made The Holy Thief so successful: razor-sharp plotting, an evocative sense of location in a vividly realised Ukraine and most winning of all the vulnerably human Alexei Korolev making a nuisance of himself.
And then John Dugdale in The Sunday Times gave The Bloody Meadow a qualified thumbs-up at the weekend.
“William Ryan’s much-admired debut, The Holy Thief, centred on 1930s Russian detective Alexei Korolev. The Follow up The Bloody Meadow sees Korolev sent to investigate the murder of a commissar’s mistress during a film shoot on a Ukrainian estate. The resemblance to an Agatha Christie country house mystery (but with an injection of politics) grows as he quizzes a colourful set of suspects, in a novel that confirms Ryan’s talent but lacks The holy Thief’s impact – since the atmosphere of Moscow amid Stalin’s Terror was crucial to its grip on the reader.”
Finally Kevin Courtney had this to report about his conversation with me in The Irish Times.