Wednesday 15 December 2021

The Russian Doll by Marina Palmer #TheRussianDoll @RobertstonImogen @HodderBooks #BookReview


How much did she just say the salary was?

When Ruth Miller returns a dropped scarf to Elena Shilkov, she is whisked from a dreary shared house to a world of unimagined luxury.

The super-rich Russian wants a new personal assistant and won't take no for an answer.

Ruth gets accommodation, a credit card, and a complete wardrobe makeover.

And she's good at the job; distributing gifts, attending galas, dealing with the high-society movers and shakers fighting for Elena's attention.

Then the sinister truth begins to reveal itself, that nothing is quite what it seems in Elena's dangerous, deceptive world.

Ruth should get away.

But it's already too late.

The Russian Doll by Marina Palmer was published on 25 November 2021 by Hodder. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Set in modern-day London, amongst the lives of the obscenely rich, The Russian Doll is a novel that really too me by surprise. I was expecting the story of an ordinary girl who finds herself surrounded by the trappings of money and glamour, and that is what it is. However, there's so much more to this tense, complex and very entertaining novel. It's an eye-opening insight into what happens in those circles that most of us will never enter. It's about money, and power and control. It's about how humans will stop at nothing to protect themselves, and to rise higher. It's cleverly structured and quite fascinating.

Ruth Miller is from the North of England. She's recently moved to London. She's out of her comfort zone really and when she sees a woman drop an expensive scarf, she fleetingly considers keeping it. However, Ruth follows Elena Shilkov and her two daughters into an exclusive cafe, to ensure that the scarf is returned. Ruth then finds herself caught up in a terrifying incident and puts her own safety to one side, in order to save others.

It is this one act of bravery that leads Ruth to a mansion in the wealthiest part of London. Elena offers her a job, with a fantastic salary and full board. Although it does take a little while for Ruth to decide, she takes the job and enters a world that she could never have imagined.

This author takes her readers into a world where corruption is normal. Ruth faces incredible danger; there's murder, blackmail and online bot accounts. However, Ruth has her own shady past and is far tougher than either she, or the family she now works for could ever have imagined.

This is full of tension and suspense and I was never quite sure who to trust. Totally entertaining and written with such style. Recommended by me. 

Marina Palmer is the pseudonym of bestselling British author Imogen Robertson used for her contemporary solo thriller writing.

Imogen was born and brought up in Darlington and read Russian and German at Cambridge. Before becoming a full-time writer, she directed for TV, film, and radio. She is the author several novels, including the Crowther and Westerman series and The Paris Winter, and has co-written novels with former Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson (The House), screenwriter Darby Kealey (Liberation as Imogen Kealey) and the legendary Wilbur Smith (King of Kings). Imogen has been shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger three times and for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award once. She has also written for Hampton Court Palace, chaired the Historical Writers' Association and been mentioned in Private eye twice.

Palmer is Imogen's husband's surname - she is married to the cheesemonger and author Ned Palmer - and she chose Marina as tribute to Russian Silver Age Poet Marina Tsvetaeva. She almost went for Anna, after Anna Akhmatova, but as her mother-in-law's name is Ann, that started getting a bit confusing. She, her husband, and her multiple identities live in south London.

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