Some of the characters in the Stalin make their first appearance here so that helps shed a little light on the subsequent novel. The characters names confuse me, of course, and I had a little trouble keeping them straight; I often do with mystery novels and that can be a problem - wasn't this guy the other guy who did one thing or the other? - and the Russian names only compounds the problem. But I buckled in for the ride and everything finally made sense. If Smith's research is accurate, the incidents leading up to the Chernobyl accident, its aftermath and the nether-world that's risen from the ashes, are weird and fascinating. A perfect setting for a mystery.
Another very good installment in a very good series.