Spotlight on “A Plague On Both Your Houses” by Robert Littell

by LitStack Editor

A Plague on Both Your Houses is a thrilling tale of love and war. A brand-new novel from author Robert Littell.

A Plague on both Your Houses and author Robert Littell

About A Plague On Both Your Houses

On Christmas Day, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev delivered a ten-minute televised speech announcing his resignation as Soviet president. Moments later, with little pomp and less circumstance, the red flag was lowered from its floodlit perch atop the Kremlin, and the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

Into the vacuum—before a new democracy had time to put down roots—surged the Russian mafia, supplying what the new state could not: krysha, or “roof”—protection for the privately owned businesses sprouting across the country. Rivalries turned bloody as Moscow’s Jewish mafia battled the Ossete vory v zakone (literally “thieves-in-law”) for control of the city. Caught up in the mayhem, Yulia, only daughter of the Jewish mafia godfather, and Roman, only son of the Ossete mafia godfather, are obliged to navigate the minefield of a star-crossed love affair as they attempt to escape a destiny that appears preordained.

A Plague on Both Your Houses is the fictional story of one bloody episode in Moscow’s Great Turf War, when clans fought brutally in the streets and the future of the Russian nation was anything but assured. 

ISBN-13: 9798212638357
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication date: 02/06/2024
Source: Publisher

A Plague on both your Houses by Robert Littell

Editorial Review for A Plague On Both Your Houses

Kirkus Reviews

Romeo and Juliet meet the Russian Mafia in this bloody saga.

Mikhail Gorbachev resigns, and the Soviet Union becomes the Commonwealth of Independent States. But with communism suddenly gone, capitalism faces enormous hurdles. Anyone trying to start a new business must pay criminals for a roof, or, in Western parlance, for protection. Two major gangs vie for control of the Moscow turf. Timur the Lame, a veteran of Strict Regime Corrective Labor Colony No. 40, is said to descend from Tamerlane. But the “Israelite pakhan Naum Caplan is the new boy in town.” Pakhan is the honorific given the senior vor, or thief. Timur’s gang happens to hate Jews—international Jewish conspiracy, yadda yadda—but they would probably kill each other over the lucrative turf anyway. 

Roman Timurovich Monsurov, Timur’s son, is attracted to Yulia, Caplan’s daughter. The pull is mutual and mostly physical, though it could develop into love if they were given a chance. A suspicious Timur warns, “Beware of tying knots with Jewesses, my darling son.” 

…when one of Timur’s thugs shoots one of Caplan’s thugs in the knee, Caplan decides to repay the offense with interest, and a war is on. Meanwhile, Osip Axelrod is chief of the Organized Crime Control Department, and his boss wants him to deliver Timur’s scalp on a platter. Literally. “Help them kill each other off when you can!” boss man says; “What Mother Russia needs to become great again…is more funerals.”

Romeo and Juliet—sorry, Roman and Yulia—decide to escape all the mayhem if they possibly can. The Shakespearean plot would be clear even if the lovers’ names had been Boris and Galina…the author illuminates the turbulence in post-communist Russian society, a perfect venue for a crime yarn.

Star-crossed lovers and warring gangs: Methinks the Bard would love it.

About Robert Littell, Author of A Plague On Both Your Houses

A Plague on Both Your Houses

Robert Littell is the author of nineteen other highly acclaimed novels, including his masterwork, New York Times bestseller The Company, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award winner for best mystery-thriller Legends. Littell has been writing about the Soviet Union and Russians since his first novel, the espionage classic The Defection of A. J. Lewinter. Among his other numerous critically acclaimed novels are The October Circle, Mother Russia, The Debriefing, The Sisters, The Revolutionist, The Once and Future Spy, An Agent in Place, and The Visiting Professor. Littell is an American who makes his home in France.

Titles by Robert Littell


Other LitStack Resources

Head over to our recent LitStack Review of Robert Littell’s The Company. Also be sure and check out other LitStack Spotlights that shine a light on books we think you should buy and read.

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