Any fascinating book should be read to the end sooner or later, and it is hardly worth resorting to a childish trick aimed at slowing down the process of reading as the final approaches. In general, this novel by Rainov may be attributed to the absorbing literature, although it can not be considered one of those literary handicrafts that are ranked as a so-called "light genre" or "mass fiction". This book, with all its apparent ease, orientation to the tastes of broad masses of readers, can be considered a model of a modern classical spy detective story, and therefore there is every reason to believe that it will easily outlive more than one decade and hundreds of reprints.
This bold prediction can be made on the basis of how deeply the author has thought the plot through, how many little things he connects, how harmoniously all these fleeting scenes, apt characteristics, hints, and guesses are strung on the main storyline. Sometimes you even wonder how Rainov did not forget closer to the middle or the end of his rather long narrative what happened at the beginning. On the contrary, - events develop logically, interconnectedly, naturally and consistently. What is worth even a brief appearance of Anna Ferrari on the storyline scene near the end of the book, which, perhaps, even the writer demanding the drawing of the plot outline would have thought unnecessary, given how much attention was paid to the relations of Boyev with this woman at the beginning of the novel.
It would seem that her function has long been exhausted, and she can be safely sent to a well-deserved rest, but tireless Rainov unexpectedly, though for a short time brings Anna into the spotlight in one of the final chapters. He does not lose sight of the executioner Rovolt too, who, as if shimmering, now suddenly appears, then just as quickly disappears both at the beginning of the book and at its end. A great surprise is also caused by how multifaced the picture of the world drawn by the author is in this novel, which action takes place in nearby European cities and therefore, it would seem, should more resemble not a versatile and complex symphony, but a simple and understandable play. On the contrary, the one that the reader recognizes Boyev at the beginning of the book little reminds Boyev in the middle of the book and quite a bit looks like the one how the main character appears to be at the end.
On the first pages, the action of which takes place on the streets of Venice, he is an attentive, albeit weary, observer, unhurried thinker, a caustic critic of the surrounding reality, at some moments even an art historian and philosopher. Somewhat later, he becomes an insidious seducer, a malicious mocker, not too flatteringly responding to the readiness of women to build relationships with generous rich people. Approximately in the same place of the book, the reader will learn that Boyev is prone to reflection and faithful servant of his country, who worries a lot because of failures which happen to him during the execution of a mission. But this is by no means not all the features of his character, since Boyev, boldly jumping rooftops on a rainy night to get to the Zodiac archive, also appears as a desperate daredevil willing to risk his life for the sake of achieving his goal, and his relationship with Edith reveals in him a deep heart, lyricism, romanticism, the ability to have tender feelings.
You can make sure of this during Emil`s communication with Edith in business issues, and during their joint leisure activities at the artist`s party, and, of course, at the time of their conspiracy kiss on an evening street, and when describing their forced return from the suburbs on a bicycle. In the end, the reader learns that Boyev can coolly look into the face of death when the Zodiac`s employees actually kidnap him, and that he can just as easily, perhaps forever, part with a woman who has long become for him much more than a colleague, and therefore separation from which for him, too, is to some extent tantamount to a small death. But Boyev`s most amazing ability is not his many-sidedness, versatility, ability to be cruel, sentimental, and slow, and impetuous, but his ability to constantly think about his actions in every detail and from time to time to look around with wide eyes his whole life starting from childhood.
The whole novel is built on how Boyev sees the world around him, what he thinks about, how he evaluates what is happening around him, what general moral tendencies he emphasizes, and what human qualities he focuses on. Nevertheless, the method of exposing the events chosen by the author, making the main character a regular interlocutor of the reader, is rather non-standard against the background of novels, the description of events in which comes from a third person. This allows one to be in constant psychological contact with Boyev, learn about all his doubts, guesses, memories, regrets, feelings, sufferings. It must be admitted that the author limited the emotional world of Emil to dark, gray and, at best, lyrical moods, while completely depriving him of reverie, and directing his rich imagination not to create pictures of a happy future, but to imagine difficult conversations with the leaders of his intelligence mission.
Perhaps the gray emotional series was due to the author`s vision of the world and the life of the intelligence officer in particular. That is why the novel seems so close to everyday reality, it is as if taken from it, like a bucket of water from sea waves, and it can instantly dissolve in the surrounding world as well if it is thrown there. By the way, this is exactly what happens in the imagination of the reader, which, after reading this book, does not feel at all that separation from reality, which often occurs after reading novels, mostly based on a fictional picture of the world. This novel is part of everyday life - rainy, cruel, full of murders, deceit, ingenious plans, sufferings, partings, regrets. Perhaps that is why, after reading it, you can feel something like the famous catharsis, that is, the emotional purification experienced by the audience of ancient Greek tragedies.
This book does not lead the reader into the world of solar dreams, but constantly pours on him the rain of harsh reality, which is created in the Rainov`s novel by ruthless, low, creepy people. That is why it is necessary to read it, and to the last page, to the very scene of Emil`s farewell to Edith at the railway station, which has nothing to do with a happy ending pleasant to the reader, but it has a lot in common with life, in which even people who are satisfied with their social and material situation usually want to get even more from destiny and, unable to meet this need, they quietly suffer. Indeed, there is nothing better than bad weather, because it very accurately reflects the emotional state in which a person is immersed in everyday life, and thus facilitates his perception of the world around him, which, like his inner world, is shrouded in gray clouds during a rain and not lit by the bright sun.