The Good Angel of Death, Paperback Book

The Good Angel of Death Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


When Kolya moves into a new flat in Kiev, he finds a book hidden within a volume of "War and Peace".

Intrigued by the annotations that appear on every page, Kolya sets out to discover more about the scribbler.

His investigations take him to a graveyard, and more specifically to the coffin of a Ukrainian nationalist who died in mysterious circumstances and was buried with a sealed letter and a manuscript.

An exhumation under cover of darkness reveals that an item of great national importance is buried near a fort in Kazakhstan.

As nightwatchman at a baby-milk factory, Kolya exposes himself to the attentions of a criminal gang, and so he decides to leave Kiev for a while.

Armed with only three cases of baby milk, which have unexpected hallucinogenic properties, he sets off on what turns out to be a very bizarre journey: crossing the Caspian Sea and traversing the deserts of Kazakhstan.

He meets a host of unlikely characters on the way, including Bedouins, ex-KGB officers and a spirit-like companion in the form of a chameleon..."The Good Angel of Death" is a classic, first-rate Kurkov yarn which is sure to delight old and new fans alike.


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I'd seen and almost picked up a previous book by this author as the back cover blurb had me intrigued. Unfortunately, as it was a sequel, I decided to give it a miss so I was delighted to find another of his titles going cheap. Hugely talented, truly very funny was the accompanying quote on the front so I was expecting more laugh out loud humour but was surprised by the understated satire on post-Soviet nationalism that this book provided. The story follows Kolya as he discovers the baby-milk powder he has been guarding for his job as night-watchman has some unexpected properties when he uses some in coffee to calm his nerves (He'd had a call from his boss warning him that someone might try and break in). After another warning phone call, Kolya decides it might be safer if he disappeared for a while so decides to follow up on a possible treasure hunt for something buried by the Ukranian literary hero Taras Shevchenko. We follow along as Kolya travels from Kiev across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan in search of the buried treasure.At times the story meanders along passively but is still fascinating for the clash of cultures and thought processes of the differing people that Kolya interacts with on his journey. Half the time though you're not quite sure if what is transpiring in the narrative is not part of a baby-milk induced trip. The novel was written and set in the late 1990's but has only just been translated by Andrew Bromfield who seems to have done a pretty good job of it as far as I can tell. While the book didn't blow me away and was somewhat different to my expectations I still want to read more from the author which is always a good sign