Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Snowdrops by A.D. Millers

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller (HarperCollins 2010)

Set in Moscow in the mid-noughties, Snowdrops is the story of Nick Platt is a British Lawyer who when travelling home one night on metro fights off a would be mugger. His intended target is Masha and her younger sister Katya. As Masha and Nick begin to become involved he is introduced to their aunt Tatiana Vladimirovna and finds himself compelled to help out in the sale of her apartment. The other thread of the story is that of Nick's involvement in the financing of an oil project off the coast of Murmansk on the Barents Sea.

The eponymous snowdrops are not just the pretty bulbous early blooming flower - in Moscow slang it is a corpse that only unearth's itself in the thaw following the long Russian winter. As one of the characters of book says, 'in Russia there are no business stories. And there are no politics stories. There are no love stories. There are only crime stories'. True or not, this is most certainly a crime story.'

Overall it is a pretty disappointing book. It is one that continues to promise action and intrigue but never actually delivers upon it. The plot is transparent and the ending easily forseen. The central character is so spineless and amoral that he simply isn't believable and the three threads of the story are essentially the same. Add to this a character called 'the Cossack' who could have stepped out of a clichĂ© spy novel and characterisations of the Russians which verge on the racist mean that there is little good to be said of this book and once again I am left wondering how this made it into the Booker prize long list.

2/5

2 comments:

nomadreader said...

Oh dear. I was hoping this one would fare better. I hope to read it next week (I'm currently reading On Canaan's Side and Far to Go), but I've yet to read a positive review.

Paolo said...

I probably wouldn't have been so critical if it hadn't been a booker book but then you do expect a bit better from the books that make the long list to be above a certain minimum quality standard and I'm not sure that this one makes the cut.