A Game of Soldiers ,the debut novel of Canada- based scriptwriter and actor Stephen Miller is a superb historical thriller. Set in the Russia of 1913 it presents a believable, if conspiracy-based twist to the outbreak of the Great War. But then my knowledge of Russian society at that time is fairly limited, and doubtless someone more versed in the setting than I am would be able to pick up on any historical inaccuracies.
The protagonist is a government agent named Pyotr Ryzkhov, who works amidst the corrupt society of St Petersburg, keeping his head down and doing his best not to attract the wrong kind of attention. He fails in this aim when he is prompted to question the perfunctory investigation into and cover up of the murder of a child prostitute. As he starts to dig, those involved seem to be more and more influential until they include the Minister of Justice himself. Another murder then leads him to Serbia and involvement in the event at Sarajevo in June 1914.
This was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In Ryzkhov Miller has created a sympathetic character – a man struggling to balance pragmatism with idealism, and whose failure threatens his life. I was interested to see that Miller is currently working on a sequel set after the war; I will certainly get hold of it when it comes out.
I was surprised not to find much in the way of reviews online but an expanded synopsis is available from the publisher.