A.D. Miller used to work in Russia. I know this because his character, Nicholas, can’t stop telling me about being an Englishman in Russia. But not in an interesting way. In a really dull and patronising way. It grated almost immediately.
As for the book itself, it’s less than ok. Slightly below average. The set-up that brings the characters together is stupid and it just carries on from there. How did they pick him out? How did they know he was such a drip and therefore an easy target?
Nick is the kind of boorish person you’d have to listen to at the table behind if you made the terrible error of heading into a gastropub in North London. All his friends would be gathered round ignoring their medicated children destroying the place while he holds court on the Russian soul and their air of melancholy now that he’s back from his year-long working jolly. Meanwhile his wallet and phone would be gone because he’s just so oblivious to everything other than himself.
The rest of the characters are one dimensional caricatures (The Cossack, anyone?) and we really don’t learn anything new about the dark side of Russia - it’s been pretty well documented in recent years and while I'm not arguing that Snowdrops needs to be unique, it's too bland to stand out from the non-fictional accounts, which are far more interesting.
The only plus point for me was the story’s resolution. I did actually find that fairly chilling and quite well done.
It's just a shame about the rest of it.