Ty Hutchinson delivers a psychological thriller set in the final days of the cold war that offers just as much excitement today as it would have in the early 1990’s. The St. Petersburg Confessions opens with “St. Petersburg, Russia, 1991”. For those of us with memories of that time we recall the protests and the radicals slowly chipping away at government legitimacy. It was a time filled with intrigue, espionage, and political assignation. CIA and KGB were everyday words. The details of the time are completely understated in this novella to the point that my first thought was wondering why Ty used the setting in the first place, but as the darkness of human nature unfolded, I was treated to the bleak existence of the times.
Description is sparse, and the novella avoids extravagant language as if the reader were in a government food line waiting for a hunk of hard bread. If the prose didn’t so perfectly fit the cold stone of the cathedral and the totalitarian oppression of the people, we might simply scoff at the story. Ty Hutchinson created a world that transmits the authenticity of the time without the details. I applaud his efforts.
Father Fedor sits at his church late one evening when he is approached by a shadowy figure referring to himself as a ghost. He tells the father he wants to confess his sins. The humble servant of God accepts his duty and begins listening to the stranger confess ninety-nine murders. By the day, Father Fedor tries to go on as usual while carrying his burden of darkness. The tension builds as the father becomes obsessed with fulfilling his religious duty until the darkest grows out of control.
There is a point where the story became a little predictable, but I was still hooked. Unfortunately the climax was delivered too quickly and neatly. I expected something much messier in order to really leave the reader breathless.
The St. Petersburg Confessions by Ty Hutchinson is a sleek fast read with a nice nugget of darkness that you can ponder in your spare time. I give it three and a half severed heads out of ninety-nine.
Heads Will Roll,