Saturday, June 6, 2015

Willaim Ryan's Recurring Character, Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev

The Darkening Field (released January 3, 2012) is author William Ryan’s second book featuring MVD Detective Alexei Korolev, whom we first met in The Holy Thief.

Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev as a complex character, who’s “suffered greatly during the First World War and the Civil War and has done his best to forget the traumatic experiences, although they keep bubbling to the surface – and in addition he finds his slightly naive hopes for the ultimate success of the revolution to be completely at odds with his personal belief in God.”

Ryan sees Korolev's religious belief as “a very instinctive one, the kind that comes from being brought up in pre-Revolutionary Russia when the Orthodox faith would have been something that permeated every aspect of life.” Although Ryan doesn’t necessarily see Korolev as very religious as such, his surviving the First World War and the Civil War “seem to have persuaded him that having God on your side in a tight spot is no bad thing.”

Ryan says that Korolev “knows the difference between right and wrong and believes that evil should be punished and that's probably what drives him as a detective. Of course, the dilemma for him is that being moral in 1930s Russia is not necessarily sensible for a man who values his safety and that of his friends and family, so he has to be pragmatic more often than he might like.”
Ryan feels that the interesting thing about Korolev is that, “he also believes, or wants to believe, in the ultimate aims of the Revolution.

Ryan says “It took a while to put [Korolev’s] character together but the more research I did into the period the more I wanted to try and show the psychological pressures and damage that the savage wars, famines and repression that had ravaged Russia in the years after 1914 inflicted on individual Russians and how they managed to cope. And the fact that Korolev has managed to retain his optimism and morality through all of this is what makes him, I hope, an attractive character.”

From Russian Life interview with William Ryan, January 10, 2012 (

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