Monday, October 18, 2010

The Last Matryoshka-Joyce Yarrow

The Last Matryoshka
Joyce Yarrow
Five Star, Dec 8 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148873

In New York, Russian immigrant Nikolai hires his stepdaughter poet performer and private investigator Jo Epstein to prove he is not a killer; the corpse is in the elevator of the exclusive apartment building he and his wife (Jo’s mom) Ruth live in. He proves to be as inept as a client as he is in social circles; as Nikolai tells Jo nothing except he is being framed. The existing evidence speaks loudly that he committed the homicide.

Abruptly Nikolai leaves New York stunning Jo. She follows him to Moscow where she finds herself trapped in a nineteenth century code of justice in which honor is everything to thrive for. The Matryoshka nesting dolls she sees are beautiful but odd yet also contain dangerous warnings telling Jo to go home or die as she has nothing to do with the code enforcement that is part of the imprint at the Vladimir Central prison and even infiltrates the Moscow police.

With a nod to the Godfather, the latest Jo Epstein investigation (see Ask the Dead) is extremely personal as the Manhattan based sleuth works a convoluted "personal" homicide case with ties to a previous century code of honor still thriving wherever Russian criminals operate. The Russian subculture makes for a fascinating mystery as Jo begins to unravel a complex tale of vengeance and justice inside a system of honor that demands revenge as justice; nothing including an American detective will prevent payment due.

Harriet Klausner

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