It takes a couple of chapters – which are often just single pages – to get into the flow with this book. The story moves backwards and forwards from the past to the future, with the current day set in 2015. The subject of the story is Bunin the Ukrainian president who is clinging onto life after a heart by-pass and clinging onto power trying to survive the scheming politicians and business men that surround him.
Back in his past it is revealed he seemed to be totally normal with a brother in care, a wife who divorced him after a still birth and little signs of political ambition.
Of course how he got where he is is unravelling slowly but it becomes clear early on as he recovers that the wife of the deceased who gave permission for her husband's heart to be used has set conditions that she lives within close proximity to the heart. It is that sort of oddity that you start to expect from Kurkov and to be honest start to enjoy because no doubt she will have some serious influence on the plot as it develops.