By Dick Jordan
David Benioff’s novel City of Thieves has it all: The frozen winter landscape of Russia, death, betrayal, friendship, thievery, destruction, evil, and lust. Lust for women, lust for men, lust for survival, and lust for food.
Set during the siege of Leningrad in World Word II, it is the story of two incongruous companions: Young Russians thrown together by the sheer chance after each finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are given a seemingly impossible assignment that will take them on a journey out of Leningrad and toward danger. Along the way they encounter both German soldiers and armed Russian partisans and it’s not always clear who is friend and who is foe.
Because Benioff kept Harrison Salisbury’s The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad by his side as he wrote City of Thieves, the scenes he created are factually believable even though one of the first characters you meet, “David” (perhaps meant to be Benioff himself in a literary, cameo role) is told: “You’re a writer. Make it up.”
You’ll be on the edge of your seat, flipping page after page, until you reach the climax of this clever history-based thriller. Carry it with you if your travels take you to St. Petersburg, the once and present name for the city that Hitler’s invading German army failed to take.
(From time to time travel writer Dick Jordan posts book reviews under the “Armchair Travel” section of his blog, Tales Told From The Road. His last post to the Book(ed) Passage blog was “"Playing 'Book Tag' with Your Smartphone.”
When he isn’t traveling, you can usually find him hanging out with other members of Left Coast Writers at the Book Passage Corte Madera store on the evening of the first Monday of each month.)