Tale of Two Russians, A
This is the story of two boys who meet at school in England. The first, Nicko, is the direct descendant of a White Russian émigré from the Revolution while the other, Viktor, is the grandson of Stalin's satrap, the director of the Dalstroi Trust, a part of the Gulag system that mined gold in Kolyma. The satrap, Nikishov, is an actual historical character, but the grandson, Viktor, is the author's invention. The novel follows the fortunes of the boys and their friendship through early adulthood. It moves from London to Novgorod, to Montenegro and back to London again and describes the world of New Russians following the end of the Soviet Union: the scams and criminal activities, the aspirations and attempts to forge fresh identities, while the past cannot be entirely escaped. An important character is a leading British politician, a neighbour of the Nikishovs in Chelsea whose relationship with a Russian oligarch is enigmatic to say the least!
This intriguing tale of mystery and suspense is based in large part on the author's own experience of Russians and their culture. It owes elements to Le Carré and to Patricia Highsmith.