Monday, 23 May 2016

Book Review: Despite the Falling Snow

By Shamim Sarif
Published by John Blake Publishing
Available in paperback and ebook

Despite the Falling Snow, written by award winning novelist, Shamim Sarif, is a compelling and intriguing espionage thriller set in Soviet Russia. Where betrayal of your own country and falling in love can rip a hole in your heart and not even time can heal.

Katya is the model communist in 1950s Moscow, she is good at her job, nice to her fellow workers, never steps out of line. Yet she has a secret life, after the murder of her parents by the government, she secretly spies for the Americans. Her mission is to steal government documents from Alexander but as she becomes more entangled with his life, she realises that she is in love with him.

She must decide if betraying her country is stronger and more powerful than the love she feels. Friendships are betrayed, lives are shattered yet love blossoms in this cold, depressing city. Shamim creates characters who you care about, and want desperately for them to make the right decision.

Intertwined with the story of love and betrayal Soviet Russia, is a story set decades later in 1990s Boston. Alexander is now in the process of selling his catering business but the pull of the past is holding him back from letting go. But Estelle enters his life, and makes him question his past and his future. The need to find out the truth brings conflict for Alexander as he must reassess his past, one his has constructed, through rose-tinted glasses to protect himself from the real pain.

This is a novel about finding the ways to let go, and move on with your life after a big tragedy. I particularly enjoyed the sections of the novel set in Russia, and the way Katya’s internal conflicts between finding justice for her dead parents against her own personal happiness are explored. This internal conflict is also explored with Alexander, many years down the line, where he must deal with the rose-tinted version of events against the guilt he has felt. Both characters are pushed to the point where they must face up to reality, and face their fears.

This is a good thriller with plenty of suspense, intrigue and romance. Despite the Falling Snow was recently adapted into a film, directed by the author, and I’m now looking forward to seeing the film to compare them both.

You can buy Despite the Falling Snow from your favourite bookshop.

Shamim took part in the Imaginary Bookshop and you can read her responses here.

I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher.

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