I hadn't read the first novel but found this Russian thriller odd, unbalanced but compulsive. Some of the settings are surreal - check out the strange crematorium in Chechnya where our protaganist works under cover to find his penguin!
What's a Mafia funeral without a penguin? He thought suddenly.
Quickening his pace, cutting corners, he made towards the cemetery church, dodging headstones and railings, stumbling, literally, over names and dates with the church hovering, mirage-fashion, inaccessible, unattainable - like happiness after death .... And for one brief moment a small black-and-white something went waddling in with them. His heart missed a beat. Misha! Yes, there had to be a penguin!