In 2018, a former Russian secret agent and his daughter were poisoned with a lethal neurotoxin that left them slumped over on a British park bench in critical condition. The story of who did it, and how these horrendous contaminants were developed, captivates and terrifies in equal measure. It has inspired acclaimed author Sergei Lebedev’s latest page-turning novel. At its center is a scheming chemist named Professor Kalitin, obsessed with developing an absolutely deadly, undetectable and untraceable poison for which there is no antidote. He becomes consumed by guilt over the death of his wife, the first accidental victim of his Faustian pact to create the ultimate venom, and the deaths of hundreds of test subjects. After he defects from the Soviet Union to spend his “retirement” years in the West, two Russian secret agents are dispatched to assassinate him. In this fast-paced, genre-bending novel, Lebedev weaves tension-filled pages of stunningly beautiful prose exploring the historical trajectories of evil. From Nazi labs, Stalinist plots, the Chechen Wars, to present-day Russia, Lebedev probes the ethical responsibilities of scientists supplying modern tyrants and autocrats with ever newer instruments of retribution, destruction and control. Lebedev, one of Russia’s most important and exciting writers, has never been better.