Serafima Bogomolova’s debut novel, My Trickster, begins by throwing the reader off balance and continues to do so throughout this quirky novel. The story begins when the enigmatic Angela Moreuax summons her old business partner and lover Juan MacBride to Moscow to help with her latest project. When McBride arrives he finds the situation is not at all what he expected. The surprises continue to pile up, both for MacBride and the reader.
The story is told with dual and often overlapping points of view. We see the action from the point of view of Angela (La) alternating somewhat randomly with that of MacBride. Occasionally the same scene is presented from her point of view, then his, consecutively. Bogomolova uses the literary technique of unreliable narrators to good effect here, keeping the reader guessing throughout the book. Toward the end, the POV shifts yet again to a third person omniscient narrator, however, giving the reader more insight into what is actually happening.
The author’s attempts to create mystery and drama make the story a little confusing at times, but readers who are willing to go along for the ride will find the unexpected twists and turns of this story delightful and even at times amusing. La is a frustrating character to say the least. Another character in the book describes her thusly:
There was something disturbingly magnetic about her, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on: extremely feminine, yet ruthless, sensual yet tough, seeming available yet completely unobtainable.
In many ways this describes the book as well as its main character.
Perhaps some of the most enjoyable aspects of My Trickster are the locales. From Moscow we soon race off to St. Petersburg, then to Helsinki, and end up in Geneva and Venice. Bogomolova gives little detail about the motivations or backgrounds of the characters, yet her writing is lush with color and texture and scent. When she describes a snowy landscape, you pull your sweater tighter.
This is not a plot-driven novel. By the end, the already murky plot has become nothing more than a sideline that gives some structure to La’s adventures. And the novel is oddly vague about the characters as well. Though La is most definitely at the heart of the novel, by the end, she is, if anything more of an enigma than she was at the beginning. Yet that does not distract from the novel. La’s very inscrutability is what drives the story.
The language gets a bit looser toward the end. However, as the language becomes increasingly clunky, the story begins to gel. The erotica is not at all over-the-top, but readers who are bothered by mildly descriptive sex acts might want to skip this one. Readers who love lush settings and near non-stop action will likely find this a worthwhile read.
Lovers of psychological thrillers will do well to keep an eye on Ms. Bogomolova. If she continues to hone her craft, we can expect good things to come.