Simon & Schuster, Nov 2004, 25.95, 336 pp.
In Moscow billionaire NoviRus Corporation CEO Pasha Ivanov jumps ten stories to his death. Prosecutor Zurin rules it a suicide immediately and informs Senior Investigator Arkady Renko that Colonel Ozhoggin, head of NoviRus Security, is coming to check the scene. Arkady thinks the suicide decision is typical of the incompetent Zurin so he looks around the apartment wondering why kilos of table salt are in the closet and on the window sill as well as blood stains on the sill.
Not long afterward, NoviRus' senior vice-president Lev Timofeyev turns up dead in a Ukrainian cemetery inside the Zone of Exclusion that centers on Chernobyl; his throat is slit and wolves have masticated on his face. When Arkady continues to make inquiries, an irritated Zurin exiles him to Chernobyl to investigate the Timofeyev death. Inside the still deadly radioactive circle Renko feels he will find the answers to the murders of Ivanov and Timofeyev. Though there is poison everywhere and real wolves prowling, Renko knows that it is the humans who must beware as someone besides his incompetent superior wants him to drop the investigation.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner