Red Harvest


Writing in The Miami Herald, Glenn Garvin describes a new wave of crime novels set in Stalin-era Russia. It's the perfect place for hard-boiled fiction, Garvin argues:

I reached into my overcoat for my Nagant M1895 revolver. Someone was going to become an unperson in the next seven seconds, and it wasn't going to be me.

In a totalitarian society in which almost everyone informed on everyone else at one time or another, where the slightest criticism of the government could result in a quick death sentence in Moscow's notorious Lubyanka prison or a slow one in the frozen waste of Siberia, life was conducted at a whisper. Between executions, the brutal labor camps and the famine induced by Stalin to starve politically unreliable peasants in the countrywide, a reign historians have labeled The Great Terror, claimed at least 15 million lives and perhaps many times that.

The result was a paranoid, hermetic and corrupt society that makes a perfect landscape for noir fiction.

"I don't know of any other society where so many people distrusted so many others and were absolutely justified in doing so," Eastland says. "It lends itself to great crime storytelling. How does an honest man, living in a country run by people who are not—how does an honest man live and work in that situation when he has a bird's eye view of some of the greatest criminals in history?"

Read the whole thing here. Read Garvin's Reason articles here.