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The Twelfth Department (Korolev Mysteries 3) - William Ryan

The Twelfth Department (Korolev Mysteries 3) - William Ryan

This is book number 382 of an exclusive edition of just 400 copies

Title: The Twelfth Department

Author:  William Ryan

ISBN:  9780230742758

Weight:  887 g

Numbered signed first edition, first printing



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The Twelfth Department by William Ryan

Moscow, 1937.  Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer.

It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power.  When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he’s caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD.  And then his son Yuri goes missing…

A desperate race against time, set against a city gripped by Stalin’s Great Terror and teeming with spies, street children and thieves, The Twelfth Department confirms William Ryan as one of the most compelling historical crime novelists at work today.

A new Captain Korolev mystery from the author of The Holy Thief and The Bloody Meadow

Peer & Press Reviews

Set in Moscow in the 1930s, The Twelfth Department is the third outing for William Ryan’s increasingly impressive Captain Korolev series…  There’s an Orwellian influence to the manipulation of language and meaning in The Twelfth Department, while Korolev’s quest to uncover the “facts” of his investigation ensures that he soon resembles a pawn kicked around the board by warring superiors.  The geographical setting and political backdrop are compelling enough, but Korolev is a fascinating character in his own right, an army veteran of “the German War” who acknowledges the poisonous nature of the regime he serves even as he clings to the hope that its propaganda might some day chime with reality.

Irish Times

Ryan’s tense, tightly plotted whodunnits feel gloriously plausible, a function of the intimate link he forges between his readers and his characters, never mind that those characters are living through extraordinary times.


I haven’t read the previous two novels in this series, but The Twelfth Department is so good that in fact, while not hindering the reader’s enjoyment, it further succeeds in whetting the reader’s appetite for the previous novels.  The fetid and suffocating atmosphere created by Ryan, where friends, colleagues and even family cannot be trusted, is brilliantly realised and becomes progressively worse as the narrative unfolds and Korolev’s choices narrow.  The characterisation is simply excellent.  Korolev is a conflicted and complex character whose personal story intertwines with the twisted and turning investigative narrative while the other characters, such as the Moscow mob boss, Count Kolya, are all energised and smoothly drawn.  As a crime story this is excellent, but as a historical crime novel, it is outstanding.

Historical Novel Society

Bibliographic Info

Attribute Details
Title: The Twelfth Department
Book Features
Edition / printing: First edition, first printing
Edition background:

This numbered edition comes from a small print run of just 400 copies commissioned by a leading London bookshop working in association with the publisher.

The book has an authentication page, immediately before the title page, that confirms the book’s number.  This page also gives the book’s title, the author’s name, the name of the publisher and the month and year of publication.

Book number: 382 of 400
Series: Korolev Mysteries series – book 3
Overall condition: Fine / Fine (for more info, see our article on condition grades)
Signed: On the title page
Book Stats
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Imprint: Mantle
Awards and prizes:

CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger 2013 – shortlist

Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year 2013 – shortlist

Publication date:
Printed by: CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon
ISBN 13: 9780230742758
ISBN 10: 0230742750
Format: Hardcover with dust jacket
Pages: 364
Size (h x w x d): 242 x 162 x 38mm
Design Credits
Author photo: Kate Eshelby
Jacket images: Stephen Mulcahey / Arcangel Images (figure) | Thomas Johnson / Sygma / Corbis (background)

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