The Lensky Connection, by Conrad Delacroix, is set in mid-1990s St Petersburg and Moscow, Russia.
FSB officer, Maj. Valeri Grozky, is assigned to police St Petersburg’s organised crime problem, especially drugs, a cause near to his heart after his elder brother died from an overdose while battling his post-war demons. Maj. Grozky forms an uneasy alliance with a journalist, Natassja Petrovskaya, who shares information with him about the current organised crime situation, alluding to collusion and corruption in official offices. Maj. Grozky is reassigned to a Military Intelligence operation set up to protect the President Yeltsin’s reputation against a possible expose relating to an oligarch and a failed oil company by a US Senate Committee during the lead up to the Presidential election. Secret plots are in play in both the US and Russia, and Maj. Grozky, with Natassja’s help, gets much closer to the truth than anyone expected.
It’s a fairly long and convoluted story – the plot is complex, the characters even moreso, which gives the whole work a strong sense of authenticity. In fact, what I liked about this book, even more than it’s intriguing plot, was the strong feeling of reality – authentic dialogue, suspicions among even the closest of characters, and the uncertainty about which officials were corrupt and which were not. At times it was difficult to know which characters were on which side, further adding to the intrigue and suspense. The crisp writing style easily keeps the reader attached to the unfolding plot. An appropriate amount of supporting detail gives the reader a strong feel for the setting. (And it was good to read a book set in Russia that didn’t go on and on about the cold or the snow.)