If you look at the cover of this political thriller you will see in the background some lines of a document. We can vaguely make out what it says. It is a snapshot of a page. That one page undoubtedly belongs inside a huge file. The words “Top Secret” are crossed out. Who did that and why? This well-designed cover predicts what we find inside the book.
The book races you through the streets of Moscow. Author Adrian Churchward has done a great job sketching the city. He details a lot and at the same time gives you only bite-size pieces of information. For me, it hindered the unfolding of the story.
Moscow Bound is about a human rights defender whose next client is as unusual and as unbelievable as can be. Unbelievably beautiful, streetwise, savvy, and absolutely unlikable. She is deceptive and the reader has a hard time finding out whether that is a naïve act or an ill-chosen strategy. And I guess that is what bothered me in the book. I cannot relate to the characters.
On the back cover you read that “Ekaterina Romanova, the estranged wife of Russia’s wealthiest oligarch Konstantin Gravchenko, asks Scott Mitchell, an idealistic young English human rights lawyer who is being intimidated by the authorities, to find the father she’s never met. She believes he’s been languishing for decades without trial in the Gulag system. Meanwhile, General Pravda of military intelligence, though an advocate of transparency, is determined to protect a covert operation that he’s been running for years.”
While reading the book it doesn’t become clear why Scott is practicing in Moscow of all places. Or why Ekaterina picks exactly this lawyer knowing the reach of her estranged husband’s power. Most importantly, she has a young daughter. How easy would it be for her powerful ex to get custody and to prevent her from ever seeing her only child again? That thought or the weighing of that risk never comes up.
It also doesn’t become clear what really drives Scott to take this case. Yes, it has a human rights angle but a cursory look at the case would have told him that he’s in over his ears. What is Ekaterina’s motive to pick him? I’d be suspicious that I was chosen as an expendable pawn. I’d have a security team watching my back. But Scott, a seasoned lawyer in Moscow, doesn’t think like that. That’s why I cannot relate. Neither main character felt believable to me.
Maybe I will get more answers as soon as the next books come out as Moscow Bound is the first in a trilogy. I must say that the plot and the twists are well done and I am curious to see what happens to the people involved. I just hope that I get to know them, their motives, their line of thinking, and especially their true character a little better.
Note: I received a hard copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.