Author: Cristelle Comby
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Age Group: New Adult / Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.
Alexandra Neve is a student at University College London whose world suddenly falls apart. When her best friend jumps from the university’s rooftop, she can’t stop herself from asking, ‘Why?’ The police rule her friend’s death a suicide and for them the case is closed — so whom can she turn to for help?
Sometimes the person you need the most is the one you least expect to find, and in this case it’s none other than Ashford Egan, a blind middle-aged history professor, who’s more willing than most to listen to what she has to say.
Neve and Egan are as different as they come. She’s restless, careless at times, and fearless when the need arises, while he’s almost the complete opposite: a deep thinker with an analytical mind, a highly rational and collected individual.
As they enter the violent world of the Russian mafia, they must overcome their differences and learn to work together. It’s their only chance if they want to survive.
Russian Dolls reminded me of a mature, gritty version of Veronica Mars. Alexandra Neve, our main character, doesn’t want to become your typical mystery-solving sleuth, but she’s forced into the role after her best friend commits suicide by jumping off a school building. When Alexandra finds a note with a list of names hidden in her best friend’s bedroom, she realizes there may be more going on than just a suicide. She never believed Idrana would take her own life in the first place, and with the clues adding up, it seems like something else is going on.
Alexandra finds an unexpected ally in her blind professor, Mr. Ashford Egan. He’s a grumpy, bitter man, but his intellect and quick wit make him the perfect ally for Alexandra. He recognizes the names Alexandra found as being names of towns all around Russia. When the two of them dive deeper into the mystery, they uncover a secret human trafficking organization, and before they very well realize it, put themselves in harm’s way.
I liked how Neve and Egan were an unlikely sleuthing pair, but yet they work remarkably well. I enjoyed Egan’s sarcastic, dry sense of humor, and Alexandra’s down-to-earth view on life. While the MC is a ‘new adult’ (and fits perfectly within the new genre of “new adult”) this book would be an excellent fit for the older young adult audience, and the adult audience alike. There’s action, mystery, suspense and a lot of character development. Some more grown up topics are touched upon, but in a mature, distanced way. There’s no swearing or profanity, which is a bonus. Lately, it seems like all the mystery novels I’ve read are wrapped in a layer of profanity with a bit of swearing on top. Here, no such thing – thank God.
Russian Dolls is a great debut novel. The author certainly managed to keep up the suspense, and to keep me at the edge of my seat until the end. I can’t wait to read more about the Neve and Egan cases.