... a well-paced, tightly plotted, deeply researched exercise that suggests the kind of family franchise one might actually want to keep reading ... Leonard intelligently grounds the plot in the geopolitical paranoia of fin-de-siecle Europe, where anarchists have already claimed the lives of Alexander II of Russia, the Austrian Empress, and the prime minister of Spain, and where one tinder threatens to blow the whole chain of alliances sky high ... In short, it’s all great fun ... The research can sound awkward to the modern ear, and Melville’s Irish brogue can tilt to the vaudevillian...Meanwhile, the dead city, in its gorgeous squalor, lives.
[A] lively and assured historical drama ... Melville and Steinhauer, along with many other characters, are based on historical personages, and their portraits are finely drawn. The narrative pace never flags, and even the obligatory scenes of shootouts, explosions, and hurtling locomotives are refreshingly vivid. The novel’s quieter moments are, however, its best, and none is better than its final twist ... A briskly paced, richly atmospheric historical thriller.