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Monday, February 14, 2011

'Snowdrops' by A.D. MILLER

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

A. D. Miller's Snowdrops is an intensely riveting psychological drama that unfolds over the course of one Moscow winter, as a young Englishman's moral compass is spun by the seductive opportunities revealed to him by a new Russia: a land of hedonism and desperation, corruption and kindness, magical dachas and debauched nightclubs; a place where secrets - and corpses - come to light only when the deep snows start to thaw - Snowdrops is a chilling story of love and moral freefall: of the corruption, by a corrupt society, of a corruptible young man. It is taut, intense and has a momentum as irresistible to the reader as the moral danger that first enchants, then threatens to overwhelm, its narrator.

‘Snowdrops’ is the debut novel from British writer, A D Miller.

Nick Platt is a British lawyer living and working in Moscow, Russia. The city is a hedonistic dream – nightclubs, women and with enough money you can get anything you desire. Moscow is a playground for wealthy businessmen, ex-KGB and one lonely Pommie ex-pat.
One night, Nick meets and beds two beautiful Russian women, and falls in love with one of them (‘Masha’ to her friends). To help Masha’s aunt, Nick gets involved in the Russian real estate business. But nothing in this city is at it seems and everything comes with a price.

‘Snowdrops’ is the perfectly inconspicuous title for this psychological chiller. ‘Snowdrops’ refers to Moscow slang, a corpse that lies buried or hidden in the winter snows emerging only in the thaw. It’s a perfect title for this unassuming little book that has quite the chilling bite to it.

Miller has written in one of the most sophisticated but difficult literary traps – an unreliable narrator. Readers wade through Nick’s first-person narrative with seeming trust – but pretty soon he slips up. Little details are missing or disturbingly swept under the rug and reader’s slowly come to realize that Nick’s perspective is somewhat skewed;
When I got home that evening I found a smear of blood along the inside walls of my building, running up the stairs at about waist heights. Outside one of the doors on the second floor the blood plummeted downwards, as if the person leaning against the wall and leaking it had collapsed there. Underneath there was a little blood puddle, and next to the puddle a pair of old black shoes, standing neatly parallel to one another with their laces done up.
When I went downstairs in the morning the blood had been washed off the walls, but the shoes were still there. It was one of the alcoholics on the top floor, someone told me later. He fell. It was nothing to worry about, they told me.
It took a little while for me to realize that Nick wasn’t the most reliable of narrators . . . and quite frankly, in a novel of many twists and turns Nick’s unreliability was one of the biggest and best. Miller is right up there with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Alfred Hitchcock for his perfectly-pitched unreliable narration. Brilliant.

‘Snowdrops’ is a psychological thriller. You have to go through the novel separating the wheat from the chaff – truth from fiction and cover-up. And it’s ever harder to do when the backdrop is Moscow. I have never been to Russia myself, but Miller evokes a time and place that seems outlandishly real. Russia as a city torn down by history and the decline of the USSR. A place of double-dealings and shady corners; at once eerily beautiful and unremorsefully seedy. It’s all encapsulated in that one metaphor for snow and ‘snowdrops’ – something of purity that blankets a place and makes it look pristine for a little while, until the thaw comes to reveal the bodies underneath . . . chilling and apt, where Russia is concerned.

A.D. Miller’s debut novel won’t be for everyone – his writing is stark and unremorsefully tangled, unreliable and beautiful.

5/5

1 comment:

  1. Great review hon! This looks like a great read! I like the titleling in the cover and I like the imperfection you mention! =D

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