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1st November 2006: Alexander Litvinenko is brazenly poisoned in central London. Twenty-two days later he dies, killed from the inside by Polonium – a rare, lethal and highly radioactive substance. His crime? He had made some powerful enemies in Russia.
This is the inside story of the life and death of Litvinenko and of Russia’s new cold war with the west. Harding traces the journey of the nuclear poison across London, from hotel room to nightclub, assassin to victim. It’s a deadly trail that leads back to Vladimir Putin, and to a regime exposed by the Panama Papers.
Luke Harding’s investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, A Very Expensive Poison, may also help us shed light on the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. From the author of the No.1 New York Times bestseller Collusion.
An expert chronicle of a sensational but opaque crime, and of the terrifying lawlessness it epitomised. Enthralling.
This extraordinarily pacy book - I downed it in two sessions - by the Guardian's former Moscow correspondent is one of the best political thrillers I have come across in years. It is also a wonderful guide to criminality and power in today's Russia - Boris Godunov pals up with the Cosa Nostra, as it were.
Harding, a former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, tells this ghastly tale with real authority, wit and panache ... The book is as "definitive" as it claims, though "national security" means that the MI6 aspect of the story will never emerge. It is not only Russia that needs a change.
Gripping ... Harding doesn't overcook the metaphor, but Mayfair and all it represents is portrayed here as something potentially, maybe inherently toxic. When does a soft power aimed at attracting investment start to undermine real power?
Pacy and impassioned ... Harding paints deft portraits of the tragi-comic duo suspected of carrying out the crime.
A Very Expensive Poison reads like a John Le Carré spy novel, but shockingly it's all true. Luke Harding has followed the criminality of the Putin regime from Russia to the West and his story leaves us with terrible feeling of dread about what Putin will do next.
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