I bought this book having just finished Shalamov's Kolyma Tales. Well, I soon realized it's been a long, long time since I read a page-burner like this... Angels and Demons maybe? I knew right off the top it would be fluffy with the 1.5 line spacing but was willing to give it a try. Made it to page 150 in the first read, whereas normally I wouldn't get more than 20 pages in a session with a weightier tome. Unfortunately, at about page 150 Smith begins his imagined description how the first ever female gang leader in the gulag came to power, and it was too much to continue. I would have sworn Smith was American from the style of the novel... can't think of a current British author I've read who depicts such a Rambo-style mission of revenge-justice, especially in a historical milieu where virtually no such justice was ever meted out. Another disturbing bit was how readily Smith had scattered little factoids clearly lifted directly from Solzhenitsyn throughout the prose in a form of gratuitous authenticity... maybe some people will like it but it doesn't work for me. The Dan Brown of stalinism as far as I'm concerned.