"With its earthy prose and stunning attention to detail, this stands apart." –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Very intriguing and atmospheric ... a fascinating read in the light of contemporary events.” –Alexander McCall Smith, Bestselling Author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

From Ukraine’s most celebrated novelist,"a gift for crime fiction fans" (The New York Times) that introduces rookie detective Samson Kolechko in Kyiv as he is tackling his first case, set against real life details of the tumultuous early twentieth century.

Kyiv, 1919. World War I has ended in Western Europe, but to the East, six factions continue to vie for control of Ukraine. Amidst the political turmoil, young Samson Kolechko is forced to place his engineering career on hold. But in the city of Kyiv everything remains up for grabs and new opportunity lurks just around the corner . . .

When two Red Army soldiers commandeer his home, Samson’s life is completely upended. But as Samson juggles his personal life –including a budding romance with the ingenious Nadezhda, a statistician helping run the city’s census– with the soldiers’ intrusion, he winds up overhearing their secret plans. Deciding to report them, Samson instead finds himself unwittingly recruited as an investigator for the city’s new police force.

His first case involves two murders, a long bone made of pure silver, and a suit of decidedly unusual proportions tailored from fine English cloth. The odds stacked against him, Samson turns to Nadezhda, who proves to be more than his match. Inflected with Kurkov’s signature humor and off kilter universe, The Silver Bone takes its inspiration from the archives of Kyiv's secret police, crafting a propulsive narrative bursting to life with rich historical detail.

Translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk

About the author(s)

Born near Leningrad in 1961, Andrey Kurkov was a journalist, prison warder, cameraman and screenplay writer before becoming a novelist. Death and the Penguin, his first novel to appear in English, was an international bestseller and has been translated into more than thirty languages. In addition to his fiction for adults and children, he has become a commentator and journalist reporting on Ukraine for the international media. He lives in Kiev with his British wife and their three children.


“A very intriguing and atmospheric novel by a highly accomplished writer. ... [The Silver Bone] is a fascinating read in the light of contemporary events.” — Alexander McCall Smith, Bestselling Author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

"[The Silver Bone is a] fascinating series launch . . . the finely drawn characters and harrowing descriptions of daily life in 1919 Kyiv leave a far more lasting impression than clever genre tricks ever could. With its earthy prose and stunning attention to detail, this stands apart." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Andrey Kurkov is often called Ukraine's greatest living writer, and it is a gift for crime fiction fans that he writes in this genre." — New York Times

"A glorious aural portrait of a city in dangerous flux . . . I finished The Silver Bone wishing to read more." — The Guardian

“Rich and compulsive, a modern classic in the making.” — Anna Bailey, author of Where the Truth Lies

"Original and intriguing. Relocates the historical crime novel somewhere between Kafka and The Twilight Zone." — Frank Tallis, Author of Death in Vienna and Vienna Blood

"A gripping whodunnit with surrealist flourishes . . . Kurkov brings to life an overlooked and much-contested episode in Ukrainian history, capturing the brutality with which Soviet forces first attempted to establish control over the city." — Washington Post

"In the tradition of Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther . . . Kurkov sets crime-solving against the chaos of a turbulent era -- for his Samson Kolechko, the upheaval of Ukraine in 1919, when Cossacks, the Red Army and their White opponents, and even Chinese Communists battled in streets of a Kiev darkened by power failure ... [The Silver Bone] poses haunting moral questions about defending order in perilous days, questions that reverberate a century later in Ukraine and around the world." — David O. Stewart, Award-winning historian and author of The Lincoln Deception

"An atmospheric police procedural whose protagonist battles personal tragedy and a tangled system to solve his first case." — Kirkus Reviews

"Mix[ing] elements of grim humor and surrealism . . . [The Silver Bone is] a winning offbeat crime novel that begs for a sequel." — Library Journal