Child 44 is an amazing first novel and is bound to be compared to Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park. The pacing is incredible and the book is, as I've attested, very hard to put down. I loved both the characters and the history that is woven into the story, which paints a very scary and grim portrait of the era. Since I've read it, the book has received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. Child 44 releases at the end of April, so make sure you go to your local library site after finishing this post so you can be first on the holds list! Other interesting notes- the killer in the book is loosely based on a real serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, and the film rights have already been sold to Ridley Scott.
Also out at the end of April is Vodka Neat by Anna Blundy, a former Moscow Bureau Chief for the London Times. Vodka Neat introduces a great character, Faith Zanetti. Faith is a foreign correspondent who likes her vodka neat (and plentiful), and dislikes those who stand between her and getting a good story. Years ago, Faith was married to a Russian black marketer named Dimitri. When her boss at her newspaper find out that she speaks fluent Russian, Faith is assigned to cover the Moscow desk. She's returned to Moscow many times since she left Dimitri, so is quite surprised when she is arrested shortly after her arrival. Unbeknownst to Faith, Dimitri confessed to a brutal dual murder shortly after she left the country and is now saying that in fact it was Faith who was responsible. Faith is pretty certain she didn't kill two people with an ax, but if the truth be told, she was pretty drunk the night in question and doesn't remember much of anything. Trying to sort out the mess, she uncovers a web of lies and cover ups leading right back to her former husband. The story is told partly in flashbacks of her courtship and short marriage to Dimitri in the late 1980s, and the comparison of Moscow at the height of the Cold War and the Moscow of today is very striking. I love the character of Faith, who has many personal issues to deal with but is strong, intelligent and funny.