Finished: The Burning Lake by Brent Ghelfi, 2011, 9781590589250.
The one main thing I disliked about this novel is that the damn thing ended. I'd been waiting to read this, the fourth Volk novel, and then it goes too fast. I think I liked the previous three better but this was still fine and dandy.
Ghelfi always ties in current Russian craziness and crime to his novels. Ghelfi has incorporated Chechnya, declassified documents, oil interests, graft, prostitution, porn, corruption, and art smuggling. Burning covers the popular Russian past-time of murdering journalists.
Kato was a muckraker journalist who worked Chechnya and political corruption. She was on a story about nuclear fallout and pollution when she was murdered. Kato's murder saddened Volk since Volk first met and banged her in Chechnya. Ever since then Volk was her number one confidential source on Chechen massacres, murders, corruption, etc.
Volk has three concerns. One, he was wants revenge for Kato's murder. Two, he wants to protect his secret about being her informant. Three, his current girlfriend, Valya, doesn't know he was occasionally shagging Kato on the side. Turns out that The General who Volk reports to also wants to know what happened to Kato and assigns Volk to the task.
Volk sees Kato's body. Volk finds out other bodies in the grave were not there at the same time. Ghelfi simulataneously follows a US private military contractor who was involved in Kato's murder and is trying to piece together the "why" for his own gain. Digging and violence from both characters.
Kato was investigating the nuclear pollution in remote Russia. A nuclear waste site so hot with radiation that the lake bed dump site dried up all the water. Early deaths from radiation poisoning. So on, so forth. Violence ensues. Some sex. Sneakiness and subterfuge. Powerful interests keep secrets by killing people. An evil and dangerous Frenchman. Military contractor paid big bucks for dirty work.
1. I just looked through my past notes on Ghefli books. This novel was not as intricate as those.
2. This novel was published by Poisoned Pen Press. Did Ghelfi's previous publisher drop him? Life is unfair because these should be bestsellers.
3. Poisoned Pen Press cover art almost always blow donkey dick. They should try a new graphic artist.
4. Not as much SIG-Sauer love as in previous books.
5. Valya barely appears in this book.
6. The General is not the oppressive presence he has been before.
7. With Volk out of the crime lord business and no longer running whores and online porn the novels have changed a fair amount.