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  • Reviews for The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly
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Reviews for The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly
'One of the authors of this thriller, Eva Joly, is a French prosecuting judge who has pursued high-level corruption cases in the world of business, politics and finance. It was she who defied death threats to bring to justice the likes of French oil giant elf. All of which has no doubt helped "The Eyes of Lira Kazan " become a best-seller in the French speaking world.
The high-octane plot brings together the head of the Nigerian fraud squad on the run from state killers, a crusading Russian journalist fearlessly exposing the corruption of a powerful and murderous oligarch, and an outspoken gay French court official. And it’s a real page turner…The book is carried along by its furious pace, nifty plotting, and the sense that we might be getting the inside-story on thinly disguised real news events. And a grand satirical scene towards the end delivers some grim but gratifying laughs.’ - New Internationalist
'If you wouldn't expect much from a novel co-written by a journalist (Perrignon) and a French politician (Joly) -you'd be wrong. It helps that Joly is a high-level prosecuting judge and Perrignon the author of several other works other than journalism (and also, perhaps, that Emily Read has translated Simenon). Among Joly's real-life cases was a corruption charge against a French government minister and the Crédit Lyonnais. Can that have informed this book? When a French prosecuting judge tries to take on a Russian oligarch he becomes rapidly swamped by powers far greater than he can stomach. It is left to his deputy, Felix, to continue. A Russian journalist (Kazan) attacks the oligarch from a different angle, but is cruelly struck down. The combined powers of world crime networks, major bank fraud and government corruption seem impossible to beat - until the ex-head of the Nigerian fraud squad, now on the run, joins Lira and Felix on their crusade. The book storms along, sketching but never getting bogged down in the details of corruption, and builds to a top-level, top-notch, incendiary conclusion.’ - Crime Time
'In Abuja, Nigeria, following the assassination of his friend and colleague Uche, fraud squad investigator Nwanko needs to get his wife and children out of the country. The British government offer to take him and his family safely away if Nwanko agrees to say nothing about the corrupt Nigerian government he has been investigating for the last few years. Realizing his choice is death for his loved ones and himself or keeping quiet, he agrees to leave Lagos pretending he knows nothing. In Nice, the wife of an affluent Faroese banker drowns. The police insist an accident occurred but junior prosecutor Felix thinks otherwise. In St. Petersburg, Lira the investigative journalist understands the hazards of her pursuits and especially fears for the safety of her child. However she diligently probes the business dealings of wealthy Russian Louchsky. These three dedicated individuals will converge in London as Nigerian oil and undercover operatives target them for elimination.The Eyes of Lira Kazan is a powerful satire that mocks the marriage between dirty money and "values " spouting politicians. Using hyperbole, Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon insist the affluent silence the crusaders by threatening innocent family members. However the keys to this engaging crime thriller is how haunted Nwanko, Felix and Lira feel about the potential assaults on their loved ones from mercenaries and untruth spins about each of them by the dirty money crowd.’ - Follow the Clues
‘In Nigeria, Nwankwo, head of the fraud squad, is forced to flee the country after his investigations get too close to the Head of State and his colleague is murdered. In St. Petersburg, journalist Lira plans a visit to UK, continuing her research into Louchsky, a Russian oligarch, despite already being threatened for her revelations. In Nice, Felix and the judge he works for investigate the death of the wife of Stephensen, a banker who also has links to Louchsky. Stephensen's Faroes-based bank is in trouble and Louchsky is pressing for return of his cash. Nwankwo, Lira and Felix come together in London, and seek a way to combat a criminal organisation with arms stretching across the world and the political and financial clout to make opposition difficult and very dangerous. THE EYES OF LIRA KAZAN begins well, introducing the evidence of corruption through the eyes of three interesting characters in disparate and exotic locations, caught up in fast-moving events. Their subsequent meeting and co-operation makes sense and brings together the necessary knowledge and expertise to unravel the evidence and the means to bring it to bear. Uncertainty as to whether they will be able to formulate an effective plan of attack before the forces ranged against them put the protagonists out of action creates dramatic tension. However, despite the many dramatic opportunities offered by the plot, THE EYES is perhaps not as thrilling as it could have been. The attack on the eyes of the title is rendered in a surprisingly low-key manner nor are the several killings in the book depicted in any detail. The dialogue comes across as a little stilted, and the action is sometimes uneven. Some may find the ending less than satisfactory, with a resolution heavier on show than substance. These shortcomings are not altogether surprising, however, considering that the author, Eva Joly, has made her career as an anti-corruption prosecuting judge, investigating some major frauds. Thus, THE EYES OF LIRA KAZAN focuses on very topical concerns: Russian oligarchs and the violence they can visit on opponents, the international manipulation of funds including the laundering of huge amounts of cash from criminal enterprises, and the corrupting effect such sums can have on politics. Similar themes were explored in John le Carre's 2011 book OUR KIND OF TRAITOR, which is tough competition. Fiction writers in this field need to bring believable and sympathetic characters into contact with the phenomena in an interesting way, and Joly and Perrignon have certainly managed to do that.' - Reviewingtheevidence
‘This is the first novel of Eva Joly, a French judge specialising in anti corruption cases. It was first published in 2011, the year before she took part in the French presidential race. Her co-author, Judith Perrignon, is a journalist, writer and novelist. Not entirely surprisingly, one of the main characters is a fearless French judge, investigating international corruption. The eponymous heroine is a fearless Russian journalist involved in the same field. Their paths intertwine through characters and incidents in the Cote d'Azur, Nigeria and the Faroe Islands. From a legal point of view there is some interest in the insight into the very different role of the judge as investigator on the continent. Beyond that, this is not an inspired entry into the genre. The characters are fairly flat. The plot does move along at a fair pace, but the denouement lacks credibility. OK for your last day on the beach or at the pool, when you've finished all the good stuff.' - Journal of the Law Society of Scotland
STARRED REVIEW: 'Joly, a French magistrate and politician, and Perrignon (Les Chagrins) deliver an intelligent page-turner with a solid moral heart. Nwankwo Ganbo, head of Nigeria’s antifraud squad, flees to London, where he lands a teaching job, after powerful people in his oil-rich but impoverished country start killing his employees "one by one, " including his right-hand man, and finally have him sacked. Ganbo, who has a reputation as a dogged opponent of graft, finds an ally in Lira Kazan, a journalist for the Russian magazine Mir who’s been looking into the growing empire of Russian oligarch Sergei Louchsky. Kazan becomes the victim of a vicious acid attack that results in severe burns to her eyes. Corruption knows no national boundaries, the authors suggest, providing a clear-eyed look at the complex choices and personal sacrifices facing reformers.’ - Publishers Weekly
'Plot twists galore, relentless suspense and technical insights to satisfy anyone mesmerized by today’s financial crisis.' - Culture TF 1
'You better bring your passport! Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon are willing to take you all over the world-Nigeria, France, Russia, and more-to tell a plot-twisting and gripping tale of international intrigue in The Eyes of Lira Kazan. Lira Kazan is a Russian investigative journalist whose mission is to report on Russian billionaire Sergei Louchsky, who seems to make his money by questionable means. A Nigerian group fighting corruption is removed from Lagos. A French judge and his clerk investigate the death on a yacht. In fiction, as in life, politics and money seem destined to cross. These storylines are woven together as dishonest and thieving characters face those crusading to bring them down.Norwegian-born Joly, a French politician and judge, and Perrignon, a French journalist, may not have fictionalized their characters out of whole cloth as the main conflict of the novel is good fighting evil. Although the international travel is tricky in the beginning of the novel, the novelists of The Eyes of Lira Kazan have skillfully placed each character in a chapter to build out a back story. In the end, this helps to strengthen the plot and the characterization. A thriller worth picking up.’ - City Book Review
'What do you get if a prize-winning journalist pairs with a prosecuting judge/politician to write a novel? The answer is something really rather excellent, The Eyes of Lira Kazan in fact. The novel throws you straight into the action with three apparently unconnected events. Nigerian fraud squad investigator, Nwanko Ganbo, realises it's time to get his family out of the country when he finds a colleague and good friend in his car, very dead. The solution is simple: the British government offers him a new life as a lecturer in return for silence about the corrupt regime he has spent so long investigating. Meanwhile the wife of a rich Faroese banker accidentally drowns in full ball gown whilst in Nice but junior prosecutor Felix and his judicial colleague aren't as easily convinced about the accidental nature as their superiors seem to be. The third piece of the jigsaw originates in Russia as local journalist Lira Kazan shows an interest in the life and transactions of Russian millionaire Louchsky. This isn't the healthiest thing she's ever done as people seem to have died for less.
Their experiences are absorbed and turned into something exciting, enthralling and incredibly topical. So topical, in fact, the plot could've been lifted from today's newspapers. Russian millionaires living in London in search of more opulence than their homeland can accommodate, corrupt African regimes silencing dissident voices, the banking crisis... it's all there along with themes that are more ethical than political. For instance is it less cowardly to remain silent about injustice when outspoken bravery comes with high cost to innocent bystanders? Is diplomacy really for a nation's benefit if it means consorting with those of nefarious (and often downright brutal) leanings? But if you're not into dissecting undercurrents, there's still plenty for you. Often in thrillers the character development takes second place to the action. Not in this novel - the authors have created a balance, along with an interesting use of technique. We know the judge is someone of high moral values as he's repeatedly referred to by his job title, a device that highlights his vulnerability as things go awry and suddenly he's referred to by his first name. Then there are the three front runners. Nwanko tearing himself apart as he wrestles with versions of the right thing to do, knowing that someone will get hurt. Lira, single-mindedly going after the international scoop whilst agonising about the safety of her daughter. Felix just not wanting to leave something half finished and becoming more and more intrigued as each stone is upturned. The authors have definitely ensured that not only does the reader surf from one adrenalin rush to the next, but the people encountered on the way have more than a tinge of reality about them. However, with such expert insight there is also a downside.
The logical argument follows that, if Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon do know of what they write (and they definitely seem to), then The Eyes of Lira Kazan could be deemed accurate in its themes and consequences and, if it's accurate these, then perhaps the novel's governments' ideas and actions are also accurate. This then leads us to a question for which the answer could be even more frightening than the novel that prompts it: What sort of world are we actually living in? Perhaps we don't want to know... or perhaps we should.’
- Book Bag

'A judge with ambitions beyond her job description, Eva Joly is fighting in the ongoing French Presidential elections and has teamed up with author Judith Perrignon to write a thriller that spans continents and delivers a bevy of heavies. Take into account the fact that translator Emily Read has previously turned Simenon into English, and you’ve got a novel with an interesting pedigree that gets a lot right. The Norwegian secret service unit spirits the head of the Nigerian fraud squad from Lagos to London. He is joined by a prosecutor from Nice, investigating a murder in the Faroe Islands, and Russian journalist, Lira Kazan, there to dig dirt on a seedy oligarch. The three must team up against three sets of hired goons intent on killing them. Everyone’s out of their depth-except perhaps the authors, who move it along at a rattling pace.’

- Glasgow Herald
'This is a thriller that ranges over Europe and Africa, casting a cold eye at corruption and brutality. Eva Joly went to France as a Norwegian au pair and rose to become an examining magistrate, prosecuting cases of embezzlement and bribery before becoming the Green Party candidate in the presidential elections. Judith Perrignon is well-known in France as a political journalist.The ring of authenticity pervades this book. Stories that surely come from the political coal-face create the complex plot. We begin Nwangkwo, a refugee fleeing his country for sanctuary in Norway. His story is enriched by an old Abuja tale for children of how the Tortoise outwits the King, one of those legends which serve s wise advice.
Nwangkwo’s path will cross with others’, notably that of a Russian journalist, Lira Kazan, who is determinedly pursuing Louchsky. This high-level crook is in every delegation negotiating gas and energy agreements and has made a fortune out of corrupt deals in Nigeria. Meanwhile Louchsky’s Scandinavian crony, Sunleif Stephenson, who makes a fortune out of the killing of whales and dolphins, comes under police suspicion in France. His wife has apparently fallen overboard in the harbor at Nice, a case that comes under the jurisdiction of a persistent local judge. The paths of the various adversaries cross in London, where Lira, determined to ferret out the truth about the Nigerian deals, is subject to a horrific acid attack that blinds her. There is no happy recovery for Lira, only a painful adjustment to her condition, aided by the support of Nwangkwo and a new relationship with her daughter.
Eventually, the main characters join forces and the pursuit of corruption bears fruit. The novel culminates in a dramatic scene at a top-level conference in Versailles, where "the Hall of Mirrors had turned into a giant call-centre as mobile phones inform corrupt delegates that the game is up. The victory of Lira and her allies is only partial. Louchsky is still rich, but the scenes at Versailles have made him a laughing-stock in a horribly realistic story by two women who know this dangerous world from the inside.’ - The Independent
'A Nigerian politician, a Russian journalist and a judge from the French Riviera all start independent inquiries into a Russian oligarch’s wealth and the powerful men he has bought all over Europe. Sacked from their jobs and on the run in England, these characters gang up together, minnows against a whale. An original and absorbing tale.’ - Literary Review
'There are dark deeds on the streets of London in "The Eyes of Lira Kazan ", but it is only one of many settings in this thriller about a female Russian journalist joining forces with a French lawyer and an exiled Nigerian politician to take on a dastardly oligarch. The political commentary here is sledge-hammer subtle but the numerous characters and locales are deftly sketched and it is genuinely exciting.
If it means she has more time to write, Joly’s limited success as a candidate in the recent French presidential elections will have readers rejoicing as much as the dodgy bankers she opposed’
- The Telegraph
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