July 17

Review: The Case of the General’s Thumb by Andrey Kurkov

photo(2)The Case of the General’s Thumb by Andrey Kurkov
Published in 2012 (First published in Russia, 1999)
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Genre: Crime Thriller
Pages: 184
Source: Bought at Exclusive Books warehouse sale
Original Language: Russian
Translated by: George Bird
The corpse of a distinguished general is found attached to an advertising balloon – and minus his thumb. Police Lieutenant Viktro Slutsky is sent to investigate. So, too, is KGB officer Nik Tsensky. Unaware of each other, each quickly finds himself mystified by developments caused by the other. Thus begins a comedy of very dangerous errors as the two criss-cross Europe, Russia, and Ukraine, until they eventually converge to find themselves the catalysts in a bizarre battle between the Russian and Ukrainian secret services.

As usual with the work of Andrey Kurkov, it’s a brilliant, absurdest story that is simultaneously hilarious, tragic, and suspenseful, with a fascinating cast of characters: a larger-than-life hitman, a deaf-and-dumb blonde, and a turtle. And as the two faithful investigators realize they’re pawns in a story of post-Soviet collapse, it becomes – also as usual in the work of this modern Russian master – an inspiring tale of resilience against the dark forces of the day.

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