Author(s): Stephen Miller
This is a historical thriller, set in St Petersburg and Sarajevo in 1913. A Russian secret policemen, honest and bored with his royal guard duties, witnesses the death of a street girl. From this mundane beginning, a plot unravels which reveals the truth behind that famous assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, the trigger for World War One. In St Petersburg, beside the glittering court life of the Romanovs, the parades and birthdays, the military displays and theatrical events, people are seething. It is not only the Bolsheviks but also the new men, the tycoons grown wealthy in the booming economy and the more vigorous aristocrats who are impatient with the idle, incompetent Romanovs. A small war would reveal the Tsar's hopelessness and enable them to replace him before the socialists became too strong. It would be easy to divert weapons to the Serbians, to fund a team of assasins. And so the conspiracy began. It was the sudden restriction of information on the child murder from higher authorities first alerted Pyotr Ryzhkov , together with information from another prostitute, herself suspicious since she was part of the Bolshevik circle. As the investigation widens financiers, policemen, government officers, foreign diplomats, even the Minister of Justice seem to be involved in an ever larger circle of fraud and violence by Ryzkhov cannot discover the purpose. It's a killing he can't avoid that gives him the final clue and puts him under a death threat and leads to the desperate journey to Serbia. "The Field of Mars" is a remarkably strong, interesting novel. The characters are varied and vivid - even those in the midst of the conspiracy can be justified - Russia had to be saved. The scenes, high life and low life, social and domestic, political and violent, are fascinating. The historical atmosphere, the sense of place and time, of the impending violent clash of nations in 1914 and the rationale of how and why the Archduke was assassinated are convincing. This is a perfect novel for all those who enjoyed "Fatherland".
2006. A trade paperback copy in very good condition.