Read Russian Reckoning by Joyce Yarrow Online


From Library Journal:Jo Epstein (Ask the Dead), a New York performance poet and PI, is hired by her emigré stepfather, Nikolai, to prove him innocent of murder. The trail of evidence to clear Nikolai is almost nonexistent since he will not explain anything to Jo. Then Nikolai leaves New York as the bad guys close in, and Jo follows him to Moscow. VERDICT Intricately layereFrom Library Journal:Jo Epstein (Ask the Dead), a New York performance poet and PI, is hired by her emigré stepfather, Nikolai, to prove him innocent of murder. The trail of evidence to clear Nikolai is almost nonexistent since he will not explain anything to Jo. Then Nikolai leaves New York as the bad guys close in, and Jo follows him to Moscow. VERDICT Intricately layered like the Russian nested doll of the title, this tale of vengeance and hatred flavored with a Russian cultural backdrop will appeal to readers who enjoy unusual mysteries with an international setting....

Title : Russian Reckoning
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 21523575
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 250 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Russian Reckoning Reviews

  • Shirley Schwartz
    2018-11-18 01:49

    This is the third book in the Jo Epstein series, but my first. I was given the e-book to review by the publisher. This book is fast-paced and we go from New York City to Russia and back again as Jo works to help her somewhat less than appreciative stepfather beat a murder rap. Someone is murdered in the elevator of the building where Jo's mother and stepfather live, and someone has gone to great lengths to frame Jo's stepfather. Jo and Nikolai travel to Russia to get proof and information that will clear Nikolai. Jo unearths old secrets and discovers some old-time crime bosses who are struggling to maintain their old rules and codes in the new Russia. All in all it turns out to be very dangerous for both Jo and Nikolai. I found Jo to be resourceful and believable. I really enjoyed the book.

  • Bev
    2018-10-30 02:54

    I picked up The Last Matryoshka by Joyce Yarrow purely because her last name starts with a "Y" and I needed a "Y" mystery author to help me complete the alphabet in the A-Z Mystery Author Challenge. I'm also using it as a launching pad for the Follow That Blurb Challenge and one of the Take a Chance 3 categories.This is an American mystery starring Jo Epstein, a performance poet and private investigator. She uses her New York street smarts to outmaneuver a master Russian criminal on his own turf. The story begins with her Russian-born stepfather, Nikolai, who needs help escaping a blackmailer who can frame him for a particularly brutal murder committed in the elevator of Nikolai's building. It soon becomes clear that there is more to the plan than simple blackmail as threats arrive inside not-so-traditional Matryoshka (nesting) dolls. The dolls have been altered and contain symbols from the honor code of the vory (Russian criminal caste). Jo and her stepfather have never been bosom buddies--but she is willing to help him for her mother's sake. But can she trust him? It doesn't help that it is obvious that he is keeping information from her. Jo's investigation will take her from the height of fashion in NYC to the Vladimir Central Prison in Russia. From a lonely backroom knock-off shop to the dark Russian forest and from the Moscow Criminal Police headquarters to the monasteries of Suzdal. In the end she will race the clock to solve crimes committed on two continents.I have to say that in the normal course of things this isn't a book that I would have picked up and brought home with me from the library. A. It's current--published in 2010. B. It's American (I'm a Brit Lit girl). C. It's about the Russian underworld and I'm not all that into organized crime. This is a decent mystery. A nicely done plot about long-term revenge. I really like Jo Epstein as a character. She's well-rounded and she is very believable as a private investigator. I do wonder a bit about her actions in Russia, however. Without giving too much away, I just think that as a PI with her experience that her alarm bells should have been going off on several occasions. But maybe we should chalk that up to her inexperience with the culture. And to be really honest, my favorite part of the whole book is the poem that appears at the front of the book (untitled) about detectives and poets.An action-packed mystery. Well-written and an interesting back story for the characters. Not my usual cup of tea...but I'll give it three stars for a good, solid read.

  • Don
    2018-11-16 23:40

    Code of Thieves by Joyce YarrowI received this ebook from the LibraryThing ‘Early Reviewer’ program where books are given on the promise of a review.Yarrow spins a tale with the practiced hand of a carnival plate spinner. I was captivated by the story within a couple of paragraphs. The protagonist, Jo Epstein, private investigator, grabbed my attention as quickly as a blonde does in Africa. Yarrow builds strong characters, a must have for me, and likeable characters, a strong wish factor for me. She also has a good ear for both dialogue and description. Her office is a back room in a Slam Club. She walks in the first time ‘greeted by the lingering odor of stale beer, which had combined with perspiration to create whatever the opposite of nostalgia is’ and paints her office as ‘a cramped space smaller than Idi Amin’s conscience’.Code of Thieves is a mystery based in NYC and Russia. In resumé, it is based on the experience of a Russian émigré who is recognized by a man who has blamed him for years for his father’s betrayal and ultimate death. The villain works out a scheme to disgrace Nikolai, who turns out to be Epstein’s step-father, and frame him for murder. The plot lurches from discovery to confusion to twist to turn, never giving the reader a moment to lose interest.I won’t go further than that to describe the plot, other than to say that the ending brings everything to a satisfying and believable conclusion. Perhaps Yarrow’s experience as a screenwriter came in handy as she realizes that many of us read as an escape, and that the romantics need that happy ending. Now that is not to say that the multiple narrow escapes stretch credibility! But then again, what action based story doesn’t? This isn’t reality, folks! It’s fiction!Briefly, I would definitely add Yarrow to my list of favorite authors. I like smart dialogue, well-paced stories that flit and zoom in unexpected ways, even when you are hoping for a ‘and they all lived happily’ ending.Downsides? I have a couple. Most of the poems didn’t make it as poetry for me, perhaps with the exception of only the last one. The back story felt…I’m struggling here for an appropriate word…tinny, thin. But you can’t give too much away at the start either, so I can give her some slack there.If you enjoy mysteries, fast-paced action, get Code of Thieves, you won’t be sorry.

  • David
    2018-10-23 01:42

    Let me start my review by advising that I won this book through the Early Reviewer's giveaway at LibraryThing in March, but that for various reasons have only finished reading it now. My rating of 4 out of 5 may therefore be slightly exaggerated due to guilt, with a more realistic rating being 3 1/2, although part two of the novel (after the action moves to Russia) is certainly 4 out of 5.I notice that in notes at the end the author says she may have started a new genre, "Bronx noir". Perhaps, but I can't quite pin down what "Bronx noir" might be. Her heroine, Jo Epstein, is interesting enough, but I don't really find the mixture of private investigator, slam poet and nightclub bouncer entirely realistic. On the other hand, a misanthropic consulting detective who plays the violin, takes cocaine and has an inordinate interest in beekeeping sounds unrealistic too, but that hasn't stopped him being one of the most popular detectives in fiction.The basic plot is interesting enough, with Jo coming to her mother's aid to investigate the framing of her mother's partner for murder. Or did he really do it? What are the big secrets he has been keeping for decades and what impact do they have on the case? Why has he been receiving Russian matryoshka dolls inscribed with Russian gang symbols? Why does he flee to his homeland when he is obviously running away from something that happened in his youth?The first half of the novel, set in New York, is really setting up the scene for where the action really becomes interesting, when Jo follows him to Russia to try to answer all these questions, but finds, like the matryoshka dolls, that every time she peels away a layer there are more questions on the one below. To me, the novel really becomes interesting in this second half, but it could just be that I am fascinated my Russian culture and history, but have never - let's say not yet anyway - had the opportunity to visit Russia and experience it for myself. So all the little details of Russian life and history were as equally fascinating for me as the unraveling of the mystery.Recommended.

  • Darlene Cruz
    2018-11-09 22:05

    Excellent! I enjoyed this book, so much detail description of the streets of New York and Russia. The cultures especially the Russian culture, I learned quite a bit. Jo got involved with her step father (Nikolai) turmoils of his past life in Russia which followed him to New York. Characters coming out of the wood work from poets, detectives, police, private investigators, vor-v-zakonye (thief-with-a-code-honor), sukas (Russians who break the code and serve in the military), musicians, ambulance chaser, arms dealer, priest, Russia's underworld. I could picture this story in my mind, reminded me of watching a spy thriller with intense Who Dunnit overtone. Jo traveled to Russia that took nerve of steel, getting shot at, thrown in Russia's prison, bribes, who can you trust? I could feel myself squeeze out a breath slowly when I reached a part in the book that made me squirm because of Jo's gumption and her air of, "jump in and find out" attitude. Here's a tender moment between Jo and Nikolai, "Look, we're both lucky to have a future. Let's not waste it reliving the past. That's the trouble with you Americans. You have no respect for history. There are things that can happen from which no country is exempt." That statement said it all!

  • Sam
    2018-11-17 02:01

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.I have not read the previous Jo Epstein title, Ask the Read, but I was not lost in reading Code of Thieves in spite of this. I would rate this title 3 and a half stars but I rounded up to be nice.Jo Epstein is a private investigator and in this book, she takes on the task of figuring out who and why is someone framing her Russian stepfather, Nikolai, for a murder. She is not doing it out of love for her stepfather but more for her mother's sake. The mystery element is developed quite nicely and I like the snippets throughout the story where the reader briefly gets to see through Feydor's perspective.There are Russian terms sprinkled throughout the text and it is nice to see that the translations for them promptly follow so the reader is not confused.My rating of 3 and half stars here means that I enjoyed reading the story and thought it was interesting but there was not enough for me to rate it higher (ie. There was not anything that totally amazed me or left a lasting impression on me).

  • Susan Schreyer
    2018-11-04 20:43

    We follow P.I. Jo Epstein from the gritty, unglamorous side of New York to the brooding landscape of Russia on an almost impossible task to clear her mysterious and difficult stepfather of murder. This beautifully written, tense, Chandler-esque tale will have you immersed in no time and glad for it. Don't miss this book. There's enough depth to keep a book club discussion going for hours and enough appeal to make you wish someone would make it into a movie.

  • Wulf Krueger
    2018-11-02 21:47

    Another book I got from the "Early Reviewers" program on LibraryThing which I'm grateful for, thanks. Unfortunately, "Code of Thieves" has a *lot* of flaws.I'll skip the summary which others have already done well. The problems start with the characters - none of them, including the hero, are believable human beings. In fact, they don't get a chance to be because the author simply lacks the talent for characterisations; let's look at Jo Epstein herself: We don't ever get to know what *really* drives her. Yes, she worries about her mother's (relative) well-being but she never displays any real emotions. She observes her mother and everyone else but she never really seems emotionally invested - apart from the obligatory relationship she jumps into and even there we we get to see the carnal side but the emotional one is severely lacking.Everyone in this book is, at best, very roughly outlined but there's no substance to any of the characters. They all behave like any reader of mysteries will expect them, too. In contrast to *well-written* books, though, the reader won't really care what happens to anyone - will someone die? Yes, maybe but we just observe what happens and because of the lack of emotional substance, we're not reacting emotionally either. It's like watching an experiment in a Petri dish for a non-scientist - one looks at it, mildly wondering what's going to happen and forgetting about it the next day.This book is fast-food of the worst kind - enjoying good fast-food is a guilty pleasure and we know it won't last long. When you've "consumed" this book, though, there's just indifference - it never had any real effect. It didn't even cause any guilty pleasure of having read and enjoyed a simple, nice mystery or thriller without any real substance like Dan Brown's books. They're similarly devoid of substance but they're greatly enjoyable. Yarrow's book in stark contrast are devoid of anything endearing.There's more than the characters, though. The descriptions of modern day Russia seem to have originated from the yellow press - over-simplified, cliché-ridden (like the entire book) and bordering on naïveté. I can almost see Mrs. Yarrow typing away in her study after her visit to Russia, feeling like an expert now, having experienced "lumpy beds and bland food" as she tells us in her interview. (In which she praises Google Earth, by the way, because it helped her so much...) There's a lot of (sub-conscious) snobbery in this book. So, this book is a way below average mystery story. Forgettable and forgivable. There's one more glaring, annoying and rather unforgivable mistake the author made, though: She obviously thinks we, as her audience, are idiots who will have forgotten the beginning once we're nearing the end of the book (she could be just realistic on the quality of her book, though).Yarrow almost completely re-uses an entire passage of text. Since it's from the prologue and doesn't contain any spoilers, I'm going to quote an excerpt here:From the prologue:"One day Tarzan and I were in Leningrad, and as we walked past the conservatory, I told him about my training on the violin and my boyhood dream of becoming an orchestra conductor. On impulse, Tarzan decided to steal me a violin and dragged me inside. We waited outside the practice rooms and the first unfortunate student to take a break had his instrument liberated. It was a student model but to my ears sounded like a Stradivarius."From chapter 22:"One day Tarzan and I were in Leningrad. We walked past the conservatory and I told him about my training on the violin and my boyhood dream of becoming a conductor. On impulse, Tarzan dragged me inside. We waited outside the practice rooms and the first unfortunate student to take a break had his violin ‘liberated.’ It was a cheap, beginner’s model but to me it sounded like a Stradivarius."There's more like that but the above quotations should illustrate nicely the author's laziness. The author, though, is not the only one who took the quick and easy route - there are a lot of typos, grammatical mistakes and other minor "technical" flaws. They're to be expected in such a cheap publication, though.In short: Don't read this book. I'm giving it two out of five stars because I wanted to know how it ends - a minimally redeeming fact.

  • Jenni Wiltz
    2018-10-28 01:44

    I wanted to like this book. There are "good guys" and "bad guys," red herrings and corrupt cops and honorable criminals and exotic settings, all things that should bode well for a mystery. Plus, I love Russian history and culture, so this seemed like a slam dunk.But it just didn't work for me because this story is missing a heart. First off, the writing is choppy. Dialogue often ends abruptly, when it seems like the characters are in the middle of a conversation. The descriptions and metaphors feel strained, and the narrative is plodding. Chapters and scenes often end with an acerbic thought from the heroine, which got old. The writing made me grind my teeth, but I looked past it, hoping the story and characters could shine through.That didn't quite work, though, because the characters never felt real to me. They have no depth, and the author didn't give them a chance to change or acquire that depth. The bad guys stay bad, the good guys stay good, and that's that. We never learn what the heroine, Jo Epstein, wants - what she desires, what moves her. For example, her motivation in this mystery is to clear her stepfather's name, but she doesn't particularly like her stepfather, so all her effort must be for her mother's sake, right? Well, she barely tolerates her mother and is usually dying to get away from her after a few minutes in the same room with her. There isn't enough nuance there to get me to believe she'd risk life and limb for either of these characters. It felt like she was doing everything in this book out of a tired obligation - which is exactly how I felt while reading it.Because the characters didn't feel real to me, I couldn't engage with the plot. The only times I did feel anything were when characters dumped backstory on us - because all the interesting stuff happened in the past. Jo's stepfather's sister related the story of their tragic childhood in the Soviet Union, and I was fascinated. But it was just one short chapter, buried, in a needless series of chases. The story of her stepfather's past in the vor y zakone (and the origin of his nickname "Little Dog") was also fascinating. But it's a one-off, and it's never really shown to shape the man her stepfather becomes. There's a long series of mistaken identities, chases, fights, and deals cut with police on two continents. It would have been interesting if I'd cared about the characters. But since I didn't, it felt like another roadblock I just had to get over.Overall, I'm giving this 2.5 stars since I did finish it, and I enjoyed some of the descriptions of Moscow. (Another reviewer has noted how unrealistic and one-dimensional these are, but they served as one of the bright spots in the book for me.)

  • Melissa
    2018-11-16 18:50

    I won this from "Early Reviewers" program on LibraryThing in exchange for a review. Now I'm going to be honest like I am with all my other books. Unfortunately, "Code of Thieves" just did not stand up to par for five stars as others have said it is worth. There were many issues I had when trying to just get through the book.My first issue was that I was very bored when reading Code of Thieves. At one point I even fell asleep while I was reading it. There were a lot of typos grammatical mistakes as well. I understand that this is the third book in the series, however when ever I have read a book out of order (which is many of times) I can always pick up the characters and get a sense of them. Most of the time The author will take a page just to describe quickly the first and second books so you know where you are at. That didn't happen in this case. From what I even gathered up about Jo Epstein our private investigator, I didn't find her likable. She was to drab and dark and I just didn't get anything from her.The descriptions where a bit much as well. At first I was saying to myself "Ok there is just way to much here there is no need for this" and that was when Jo was still in NYC. Half the time I didn't think she was in NYC except for when the author gave me something to really identify NYC.The sad thing is, is that I'm from NY so if you can't give me a clear small detail and boom oh ya that's such and such, you're not getting the essence of that location correct. Now when she went to Russia I felt there was a huge lack of description. When you read a book, you should be able to picture what the author is describing to you. I felt like this was a bad high school background play set. I didn't find it very interesting on the mystery theme as well. It didn't move me at all. I wasn't gasping, or "OMG", or just reading so fast just to find out what happens next. I'm grateful that I did happen to win this novel, however I'm very sorry but I just did not like it all.

  • Kyrie
    2018-11-17 00:43

    Another book I grabbed off the library's suggested reading shelf. This one starts in New York City with a murder on a elevator and goes from there to a Russian prison, fashion design, smuggling, and those little nesting dolls. It also has a great deal to do with the Russian society of thieves. It was exciting like a thriller, with a lot of odd cultural bits thrown in.

  • Rita Ciresi
    2018-11-06 01:00

    It was a pleasure to delve into Russian Reckoning, in which author Joyce Yarrow takes P.I. Jo Epstein to the Soviet Union to investigate a murder and absolve her mother's husband. There is plenty of intrigue on the way and as other readers have pointed out, the unveiling of the mysteries can be compared to disassembling a Russian nesting doll. Highly recommended!

  • F.C. Etier
    2018-10-21 02:41

    My review was published today, 8/31/2010 here:'m excited and pleased that a quote from my review will be on the book's cover!

  • NVTony
    2018-11-18 01:58

    This was recommended by friend. Author blends present day and past in quick moving mystery with believable twists. Characters have ability to grow with story and there is enough descriptive text for each scene. Will definitely be following author in future.

  • Brooke
    2018-11-15 21:58

    I stumbled upon this book at an event where I had the pleasure to meet the author. Enjoyed this brief but detailed mystery that spanned NYC and Russia and featured a PI whose side gig is poetry slams.

  • Dipika
    2018-11-18 18:47

    A fast-paced murder mystery that will take you through the backlanes of New York into the outskirts of Moscow. Jo Epstein is a wonderful change from the norm.

  • Deena Scintilla
    2018-11-05 23:51

    I would have liked this better except for the excessive use of metaphors.

  • Gary
    2018-11-11 22:10

    A super book!