I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Black Wolf by G.D. Abson. It’s the second in the Natayla Ivanova series after Motherland. Thank you to Mel Sambells at Mirror Books for inviting me to take part. I have the opening extract for you but first the blurb.
A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.
Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.
Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.
A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.
Prologue: September 2012
Sometime after six the train stopped at Vologda. The smokers got up. Diana Maricheva stood too, clutching her school rucksack. She edged past the compartments, their little tables overflowing with tea mugs, beer bottles and abandoned playing cards. Outside on the platform, hawkers were selling herbal teas and packets of dried noodles. Her stomach tightened when she walked past them.
Diana found the toilets and handed over a twenty-rouble coin to the attendant. She wanted to freshen up without inviting any searching questions from the women in her carriage. Inside, she took off her T-shirt to wash her armpits, cleaned her underwear using soap from a dispenser, and then pushed everything back into her rucksack: school uniform, phone and charger, toothbrush and toothpaste. On the platform, she waited for the provodnitsa – a conductor of about her mother’s age – to check her ticket, before re-boarding the train.
They set off again, and Diana stared out of her dirty window watching the never-ending columns of larch trees roll by. The autumn sun caught her carriage and she turned away, seeing children half her age clamber over the bags and coats spilling into the corridor as they raced each other. In the next four-bunk compartment she saw pink-faced women fanning themselves while listless, bare-chested men spoke in low voices. She tucked her rucksack under her head and went to sleep.
After the train left Tyumen, the carriage filled with the smells of eggs, garlic kolbasa, and smoked ham. The two Chinese girls sitting on the opposite bunk opened plastic containers full of rice and fish. One of them gestured to her, making an imaginary bowl with a palm and scooping the contents with chopstick fingers. Diana shook her head, although the two piroshki rolls she’d bought for the journey were long gone.
Yesterday her stomach had growled from lack of food. Now it cramped tight as a fist. There was comfort in the pain, the muscles squeezing the shrimp inside her. That’s what it had looked like on the internet: a pink, curved creature with a tail, not the start of a baby. Now it was a simple equation. The less she ate, the more the shrimp would disappear. And she was bigger. It would be gone long before her.
The hunger and heat made her drowsy. For much of the three-day journey a dull half-sleep had overtaken her. She yawned, rubbing a hand over her face.
The train jolted to a halt. The two Chinese girls were sitting on the bottom bunk, each with a packed suitcase pressed between their knees. The one watching her turned away sharply as the platskartny passengers fought to leave. She waited for them to go, then twisted her arms into the straps of her rucksack. She stood. Her limbs went slack and she felt herself fall back onto her bunk.
When her head cleared, the two Chinese girls were gone, along with most of the carriage. Only two flabby men in sailor’s telnyashka blue-and-white-striped vests remained. Their suitcases scraped as they dragged them along. They stank of vodka and sweat. She followed them out – at a distance.
I don’t know about you but I’m slightly worried about Diana! To find out what happens you can buy Black Wolf by clicking here.
About The Author
G.D. Abson was born in County Durham and grew up on army bases in Germany and Singapore before returning to the North-East. He is the author of Motherland, the first in a series featuring Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova, and was shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger.