The Good Angel of Death, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


When Kolya moves into a new flat in Kiev, he discovers an annotated manuscript hidden inside a copy of War and Peace and decides to track down its author, even if it means digging up the grave of a Ukranian nationalist who died in mysterious circumstances.

An exhumation reveals that an item of great national importance is buried near a fort in Kazakstan so when, during his night shift as a security guard, Kolya is threatened with mysterious phone calls, he sets off on what turns out to be a very bizarre journey.

Along the way he meets a host of unlikely characters including Bedouins, ex-KGB officers and a spirit-like companion in the form of a chameleon. From the author of cult bestseller, Death and the Penguin.


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The narrator Kolya's odyssey through the southern states of the former soviet union left me mildly baffled mid-way. It seemed to be taking an uncharacteristically mystic turn, before more familiar Kurkov themes emerged. The usual animal that quietly figures in the story also slipped in in an unobtrusive way, so it took me a while to realise its presence in the story (despite the cover).Overall, it's a low-key exploration of nationalism, history and national archetypes, and the often dark threads that criss-cross the former soviet states. Kolya needs a quiet but often fatalistic optimism in the face of of forces that can't be controlled or ignored, but have to be lived with somehow - as is often the case in Kurkov's books.Somehow I failed to mention the humour: again, it's quietly present throughout.