If you take a look at FIFA WORLD CUP 2018, you may notice that one of the host cities is KALININGRAD, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea where you have to travel through Latvia and Lithuania, or Belarus and Lithuania in order to get there by road or rail.
A bit like having the World Cup in USA with Anchorage, AK as one of the host cities. It has a division one club called FC Baltika and will have a new stadium for 2018. Locals call themselves KOENIGS, after its former name.
For those of you who are aware of your history and geography it used to be called Koenigsburg, in German Prussia and was bombed flat during World War II before becoming part of the Soviet Empire. It still is a port of the Russian Northern fleet and I have a sailor's hat that states that on the rim, which I purchased from some Russian flea market years ago.
Well, I have just finished the latest nove, TATIANA, by one of my favourite authors, MARTIN CRUZ SMITH. Many of us were enthralled by the tales of investigator Arkady Renko in the award winning book and movie, GORKY PARK. I have enjoyed all his later novels including Stallion Gate, Polar Star, Havana Bay, Tokyo Station, Wolves Eat Dogs, and Stalin's Ghost.
This intriguing Arcady Renko tale is about the death, which the Moscow police quickly rule as suicide, and a fall from the balcony of her Moscow flat, the same week that a notorious mob billionaire is shot in the back of the head.
Investigator Renko, a complicated figure himself, is not so sure and follows leads to Kaliningrad, the sordid Cold War secret enclave with its underbelly of many faults, to the trade in amber, the murder on the beach of a translator and a possible link with the sinking of the submarine KURSK and an evil deal to cream the profits of another submarine between Kremlin politicians, crime figures and Chinese businessmen.
K-141, KURSK, an Oscar ll nuclear powered cruise missile submarine,commisioned in 1994 was the largest attack submarine ever built at 154 metres length and four stories high. On 12th August 2000 AD all 118 hands were lost after a huge explosion in the Bering Sea where she was on an exercise.
TATIANA, the name of the nove,l is about a Russian investigative journalist who unearths many clues about the proposed rip off of the Russian taxpayers.
Smith's novel may tell you much about the current workings of Putin's Russia, the intolererance to dissent, and the crudity of the Kremlin and the police.
As you watch the Winter Olympics in Sochi, on the Black Sea (I also have a similar naval hat from The Black Sea Fleet which I purchased in nearby Yalta in The Crimea), think about the overall situation in Mother Russia. Have a good read !!