From Publishers Weekly
Things may not be what they appear, but they turn out to be exactly what readers will predict in this saggy debut about shady business deals in go-go capitalist Russia. Nick Platt, a lawyer who has traded his dull British life for pushing paper in Moscow, soon takes up with a leggy young Russian about whom he knows nothing and, at her behest, helps a babushka trade her fabulous apartment for a half-built place in the country. The deal seems like a scam, and, of course, it is, but Nick is blinded by lust and nearly always a step behind the reader. He blithely gets involved in a multimillion-dollar loan for an oil pipeline brokered by a dodgy fellow known only as "the Cossack," even after a key player goes missing. Most readers will not be so easily duped, and Nick's oft-repeated I-should-have seen-it-comings undercut any suspense that might remain, though there are interesting bits to be found in the travelogue-style writing about the new Russia. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Written as a man’s confession to the woman he’s going to marry, Miller’s masterful debut chronicles British lawyer Nicholas Platt’s dubious dealings in Moscow at the turn of the twenty-first century. Nick’s descent begins with what seems to be an innocuous meeting with two beautiful Russian sisters, Masha and Katya, whom he saves from a purse-snatcher. He’s immediately drawn to the sensual, remote Masha, who soon becomes his lover. Nick doesn’t think anything of it when Masha and Katya take him to meet their Aunt Tatiana, and Masha’s request that he help Tatiana broker a deal to exchange her Moscow apartment for one out in the country seems simple enough. As Nick, guided by Masha, helps Tatiana hammer out the details of the apartment exchange, little inconsistencies nag at him, but his lust for Masha and thought that she might be the one for him cause him to push aside his worries. A mesmerizing tale of a man seduced by a culture he fancies himself above, Miller’s novel is both a nuanced character study and a fascinating look at the complexities of Russian society. --Kristine Huntley