“Russia Rising” by Seth Chanowitz is probably one of the strangest books I read in the past few years. I don’t even remember how I came across it – must’ve been the magic of Amazon’s recommendation algorithms. It caught my eye as the description said that “It takes places in Finland, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and the United States and is written by a former intelligence professional.”
The book is filled with mistakes – both spelling (like Koviposti instead of Kaivopuisto, Alvar Alto instead of Alvar Aalto, Esplandi instead of Esplanadi, Mannerheim Katu instead of Mannerheimintie, etc.) and factual (like ‘coastal town of Lohja’, while in fact Lohja is about 30km from the coast, Swedish imperial design of government buildings in Helsinki, while in fact Helsinki became a capital only in 1812 and government buildings there were commissioned by Russia, mixups of the main cathedrals in Helsinki – the red Orthodox and white Lutheran ones, etc.).
The author claims to be a US intelligence analyst who lived in Finland for a long time and speaks Finnish, which makes the mistakes even more embarrassing.
The writing itself is extraordinarily bad, starting from the flat characters to a very dry and mechanical description of events. At times I even thought that this is a well-trained generative neural network that synthesized the book.
Unfortunately a very poor execution completely ruins an otherwise entertaining plot of the story.