The Case of the General's Thumb

The Case of the General's Thumb

by Andrei Kurkov
     
 

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John Le Carré meets Mikhail Bulgakov in this international crime thriller by the author of the acclaimed Death and the Penguin

The corpse of a distinguished general is found attached to an advertising balloon—and minus his thumb. Police Lieutenant Viktor Slutsky is sent in to investigate. So, too, is KGB officer Nik Tsensky. They begin

Overview

John Le Carré meets Mikhail Bulgakov in this international crime thriller by the author of the acclaimed Death and the Penguin

The corpse of a distinguished general is found attached to an advertising balloon—and minus his thumb. Police Lieutenant Viktor Slutsky is sent in to investigate. So, too, is KGB officer Nik Tsensky. They begin their investigations unbeknownst to each other, but quickly find themselves mystified about developments caused by the other.

Thus begins a comedy of very dangerous errors as the two crisscross Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine, catalysts in a bizarre battle between the Russian and Ukrainian secret services.

What ensues is simultaneously hilarious, tragic, and suspenseful, with a fascinating cast of characters who would seem absurd if they weren’t so compelling: a larger-than-life hitman, a deaf-and-dumb blonde, and a turtle. Then there’s the gun that shoots backwards...

And as the two faithful investigators find themselves to be pawns in a story of post-Soviet collapse, it becomes—as usual in the work of this modern Russian master—an inspiring tale of resilience against the dark forces of the day.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in Kiev in 1997, this offbeat crime novel from Ukrainian author Kurkov (Death and the Penguin) blends slapstick humor and political assassination. When the body of retired general Vadim Bronitsky, missing a thumb, rises over the city dangling from a Coca Cola advertising balloon early one morning, the local police, in the person of Lt. Viktor Slutsky, and Ukrainian security, represented by Nik Tsensky, both investigate. Slutsky wonders why his superiors decided to put him on this sensitive case. Tsensky, who’s just moved to Kiev from Tajikistan, is struggling to make ends meet. That Tsensky’s department is slated for a reorganization that would divide its duties and create an analogue to the FBI complicates his task. Farcical developments overshadow the mystery solving, and things don’t all quite come together in the end. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"A sardonically amusing romp ..." —John Powers, NPR's Fresh Air

“Full of touches of grim insight and tactful surrealism, with just enough of the absurd to suggest a cross between John le Carré’s Smiley and Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.”
Scotland on Sunday

“Kurkov flips from mock-tragedy to comedy and back again, planting the ominous and the absurd neatly among deadpan descriptions of a daily life in denial.”
The Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781612190600
Publisher:
Melville House Publishing
Publication date:
02/21/2012
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Andrey Kurkov borrowed money from friends to selfpublish his first books, which he sold himself on the sidewalks of Kiev. He has gone on to become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed writers in Ukrainian history, and his books have been translated into 25 languages.

George Bird is the translator of Kurkov's Penguin Lost and Death and the Penguin.

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