MOSCOW AIN’T SUCH A BAD PLACE by Barry Jones eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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Moscow Ain’t Such A Bad Place, Barry Jones. ISBN 978-1-873976-48-7, published in 2011 by ChristieBooks, Hastings, East Sussex UK — 

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MOSCOW 1987: With Gorbachev’s Soviet Union in a state of flux and uncertainty, Londoner Norman ‘Nobby’ Robert Jackson — amateur Classicist, fluent Russian-speaker, business consultant and blackmarketeer living comfortably in Moscow with two mistresses — is approached by a fellow British businessman to locate the ‘Apsheron icon’. All is not what it seems, however. Next day ‘Nobby’ discovers the man brutally bludgeoned to death in his hotel room. Who has killed him, and why? Pursued to Yalta with his mistresses, he finds he has become the target for a killer. Determined to find those responsible for a series of brutal murders of friends and associates attending a British trade exhibition in Moscow, ‘Nobby’ finds his quest entangling him with Major Shcheglov of the Moscow Police, Grigori Vladimirovitch of the KGB, and George Trenden, head of the SIS’s Soviet Desk, taking him from Yalta to Moscow, London and Devon and back to Moscow again on the trail of a mysterious and powerful international cabal conspiring to change the course of history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I first met Barry Jones  in Moscow in the late 1980s when I was travelling regularly to Russia (as publisher of Arguments and Facts International, and Central Asia and the Caucasus in World Affairs) and I promised him at the time that I would try to ensure his novels saw the light of day. MOSCOW AIN’T SUCH A BAD PLACE is the first of his ‘Moscow’ novels, a compelling story peopled by fascinating characters, and providing a sympathetic and unique insight into the people and pattern of daily life in Moscow during the heady days of glasnost, perestroika, and the dramatic buildup to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Barry Jones was Moscow’s own cross between Sir Kenneth Clark and Arthur Dailey, a scholar, raconteur and Mr Fix-it, well known for his ability to arrange almost anything in the city that he made his home from 1976 until his expulsion — in chains — from the Russian Federation in 2001. He had made one powerful enemy too many. Barry died seven years ago, in Cornwall, in unexplained circumstances. Before he died, however, he sent me the manuscript of the sequel work, MOSCOW AIN’T THE PLACE IT USED TO BE, a massive three volume novel on a par with War and Peace: 1991 – The Gangland Speculation; 1993 – The Political Option; 1996 – The Terrorist Solution, gripping stories which we will seek to publish in due course.

(Barry Jones lived and worked in Moscow for twenty-five years (1976-2001) as a translator, translating over sixty books in a variety of specialist and non-specialist subjects, eg. economics, philosophy, politics, sociology, taxation, customs documentation, music, sport, art, philately, circus & entertainment, and much else.

From 1991 to 1994 he was Head of Legal and Business Translation at the INTERFAX News agency in Moscow where he translated the Constitutions of the Russian Federation and those of each of the former Soviet Republics. He also translated dozens of laws, statutes, presidential decrees and other legislative and legal documents as well as a continuous flow of articles on oil and gas, agriculture, mining and minerals, finance and banking, and commerce in general.

In 1995 he began work on a two-year project to translate the archives of more than 100 Russian museums for the US Library of Congress, part of which can be viewed on “ArcheoBiblioBase: The Archives of Russia

From then until his expulsion in chains on trumped up charges in 2001 he worked as a freelance translator. His biggest projects were “The Celestial Garden” – by the playwright, Azat Abdullin — on the life of Rudolf Nuriyev — and a series of learned articles on medieval Georgian astronomy.)

2 Responses to “MOSCOW AIN’T SUCH A BAD PLACE by Barry Jones eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)”

  1. christie

    Our books are rarely – if ever – reviewed in the national press, so I asked an old friend, Victor Orlik (a man well-placed to know about such things in those turbulent times*), for feedback on ‘Moscow Ain’t Such A Bad Place’ by Barry Jones:

    Dear Stuart: having read ‘Moscow Ain’t Such A Bad Place’ by the late Barry Jones — whom I might have come across in my previous life — I fully understood how much he must have enjoyed his life and times in Moscow in the 1970s and 1980s. Just imagine: hard currency in your pocket, wheeling and dealing, surrounded by beautiful women; you soon acquired the status of a demi-god. It was a time when a packet of ‘Dunhill’ or a bottle of Scotch could open many doors for you in a country stricken by shortages of everything needed for what we understand today as a normal life. Then the first glimpses of elementary freedom that perestroika introduced into everyday life. . .

    The situation [of the protagonist, ‘Nobby’ Jackson] reminded me of a story from the Soviet era. The chief of the Red Army’s political department, a man by the name of Mehlis, complained to Stalin that Marshal Rokossowsky — one of the best Soviet commanders of WWII — indulges in excessive womanising, being accompanied everywhere — even to the front lines — by a number of great beauties in military uniform. ‘What shall we do, comrade Stalin in view of this immoral behaviour by a Party member?’

    ‘What shall we do’, repeated Stalin, then, without hesitation, said ‘We shall envy him, comrade Mehlis’. That was primarily my impression of the book since the rest is an all too well-known political and historic alphabet. As for the belle-lettre aspect of the book I prefer Charles Bukowski. Still, it might be useful for those taking their first steps on the post-soviet turf in order to better understand the state of the country 25 years ago.

    Victor Orlik is former Editor-in-Chief of ‘Soviet Weekly’ and the twice-weekly Soviet News Bulletin, a regular contributor to Literaturnaya Gazeta, Chief of the information Department at the Soviet Embassy in London (1986-1995), then — following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 — RIA Novosti’s London Bureau Chief.