Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Snowdrops" by A.D. Miller 3 1/2 stars psychological drama

I expected this book to be a thriller based on a couple of the publicity blurbs. It's not a thriller so if you are expecting one, you might be disappointed. The jacket blurbs that describe it as a psychological drama and as "noirish" are much more accurate. After I realized what this book isn't, I settled down to enjoy it for what it is and it succeeded on that level.

The story is told in the form of a journal/confessional written from the main character, Nick Platt, to his fiance who is only part of the book in the asides Nick writes to her while he is telling the story. The story he tells is about what happened to him in Russia and why he never talks to her about his time in Moscow or why he left.

Nick is a British ex-pat attorney representing foreign banks lending money to Russian enterprises. Being an attorney is central to the secondary story in the book, about his firm's work on a project to finance a project in the Barents Sea (between Russia's northern coast and the Arctic Ocean) but only secondary to the main story about Nick's relationship with two young Russian women he meets, Masha and Katya. Nick has been in Moscow almost 4 years when he meets Masha and Katya at a Metro stop and is instantly smitten with Masha. His relationship with Masha and Katya, and what it says about the kind of man Nick is deep inside, is the main focus of the book.

This book is less about the events that happen and more about how Nick feels about his life and how being in Moscow and in a relationship with Masha makes him feel and act. That is both the psychological drama and the noirish nature of the book. The description of Moscow and winter gives the book an especially dark atmosphere.

The beginning of the book makes you think it is going to end one way, but it doesn't go the way the reader, or Nick, expects. There were several times during the book when I wanted to stop Nick and make him think about what he was doing. Because of my background in corporate finance, those times were not just in his relationship with Masha but also in the work Nick does on the project financing. And when you get to the ending, you will wonder what Nick's fiance will do with the last things he says in his confessional.

If you are looking for a classic thriller, this is not your book. But it is interesting and enjoyable as a psychological drama about the things people do to feel alive and the setting of the book in Russia adds to the feeling. It wasn't my favorite book of the year but it was worth reading.

I got this book free from Amazon Vine in order to write a review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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