In the meantime, Drew, the auction house assistant, is charged with the task of determining the provenance of the pieces. A mystery arises as a new pendant is anonymously donated...one that would appear to be linked with Nina's set. The significance is clear: there's more to the story than Nina is willing to reveal. And it is the verification of the jewels history that becomes a story of assumptions and lies, and the betrayals that come as a result from them.
The story was well paced, and plot twists developed that kept the mystery going. I also found the in-depth portrayal of the auction house's job of verifying historical jewelry fascinating. However, I had a few issues with the substance of the novel overall. One, I got the impression almost that a formula was being followed...'reveal this much detail at a time, then hold back, move on, and sprinkle foreshadowing liberally'. It worked, but once completed, the novel felt a bit manipulated. Another thing was I think the author wanted to show two powerful, independent women in action; and yet, both women (Drew and Nina) lacked warmth and were really kind of boring. The men in the story-Grigori and Viktor-were far more interesting and vibrant to read about. The women seemed passive in comparison.
The flashbacks of Russia were of the most basic historical components: poets, vodka, intellectual suppression, mysterious arrests, the ballet, corruption, and poverty. In other words, there was nothing new added that dipped beneath a mere surface knowledge of "Russia 101." I would have loved if the book could have added historical details that would have revealed more complexity to the characters, in the way Vasily Grossman's Everything Flows uncovered a pain that explained its character's actions with more humanity. And yet, to someone unfamiliar with Russian history, they might find it a good introduction to the unique events of the region's history.
Special thanks to Katherine Beitner of Harper Collins for the Review Copy.