Review: Black Sun, by Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews knows the Soviet Union. First of all, he was born in Leningrad. He went on to become a journalist there, serving as Newsweek’s Moscow correspondent for years. He wrote an excellent biography of the Soviet super-spy Richard Sorge. For all those reasons, I expected a better book.

Black Sun is a thriller that belongs to a particular sub-type of the genre: the honest cop investigating the murder of one individual in a totalitarian state where mass murder is the norm. An early example of this is the series that began with Gorky Park. There are other series, by different authors, set in Nazi Germany. I think this story has already been done to death and can only work if the writer is an extraordinarily gifted story-teller, or if there’s an incredible story to tell. Unfortunately, neither is the case here.

I see that the book was a commercial success and further volumes are planned, but I cannot imagine why.