In this taut, atmospheric novel by the author of The New York Times bestseller The Geographeras Library, a young American finds himself adrift in Russia amid murderous bureaucrats, Central Asian mobsters, and a conspiracy to sell Soviet bioweapons to the highest bidder. Jim Vilatzer was going nowhereaworking in his parentsa restaurant, sleeping in his childhood bedroomauntil he ran up gambling debts that forced him to go somewhere far awayafast. He uses his Russian-language skills (learned from his A(c)migrA(c) grandparents) to cadge a job in Moscow finding and interviewing survivors of the Gulag. At first, he only finds that they are well hidden and leery of sharing their horrific stories, but he also discovers that heas falling in love with their homeland. He is intoxicated by Moscowas brooding, ironic atmosphere, its vast reservoir of entrepreneurial energy, its otherworldly churches and majestic subways. On any given day, petty indignities are more than offset by random acts of kindness.