As City of Thieves opens, an American screenwriter is paid to write an autobiographical essay. He can’t find anything of interest in his immediate background, but he has always suspected that his Floridian grandparents have more to tell about their experiences in Leningrad during WWII. When he asks them, they’re finally ready to tell. So begins an amazing story.
Lev Beniov is seventeen–a chess champion, a Jew, and a virgin–arrested for looting the corpse of a frozen German paratrooper in search of anything that will help his family survive the extreme rationing and the cold Russian winter.
Kolya is a handsome, worldly young soldier charged with desertion. He’s an expert on seduction and Russian literature, but his impetuous actions and big mouth leave him teetering constantly between triumph and destruction. He’s funny, grandly romantic, and dangerous to have as a friend.
Their crimes are punishable by death in wartime Leningrad, but instead a colonel sends the unlikely duo on an errand to find a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake. If they succeed, they’ll be released and rewarded. If they fail, they’ll be without ration cards in a starving city and hunted by both the Germans and the secret police. Their quest sends them on a series of thrilling adventures around Leningrad and the frozen countryside around it where partisan guerrillas battle with Nazi soldiers for control.
Benioff is also a screenwriter and this clever historical thriller begs to be made into a film. Until then, you’ll enjoy it greatly just as it is.
Check the WRL catalog for City of Thieves