City of Thieves by David Benioff

Sep 29, 2010

city-of-thievers.jpgI started reading The Passage by Cronin and the City of Thieves simultaneously.  I stopped reading the  The Passage on about page 40 because of the mounting tension and the prospect of vampires.  But somehow I could continue reading the fictionalized account of the  devastation inflicted on the city of Leningrad during the Nazi's attempted blockade. This worries me a bit about myself, but I have to say the City of Thieves is one of the most gripping, engaging books I have read recently.

Benioff introduces us to an odd couple,  Kolya and Lev ( I am reminded of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in the movie Midnight Cowboy)  who are sent on a bizarre mission by a colonel of the NKVD(public and secret police of the Soviet Union) to avoid imprisonment or execution.  Anarchy reigns in the city of horrors where starving individuals are forced to despicable acts to stay alive.  There are portions of the book I just couldn't read.  This is also a coming of age story for Lev and Koyola and sex is a hot topic.  So reader beware.  But Benioff has created two unforgettable characters who's unlikely friendship  and adventure will remain with readers for a long time.  This is a tragicomedy with some truly hilarious lines.   It's hard not to fly through the pages of this book, but it is one to be savored or read more that once.  This work of fiction based on historical accounts.  Please join use for a discussion of this book at the Shawnee Library on July 9, 2011 from 10:00 to 11:30.

Reviewed by Library Staff