Friday, November 30, 2018

Ask No Mercy and the White Russian

It's White Russians from Martin Osterdahl today on Drinks with Reads to celebrate the English translation his book, Ask No Mercy. Martin Österdahl has studied Russian, East European studies, and economics. He worked with TV productions for twenty years and was simultaneously the program director at Swedish Television. His interest in Russia and its culture arose in the early 1980s. After studying Russian at university and having had the opportunity to go behind the Iron Curtain more than once, he decided to relocate and finish his master’s thesis there.

The 1990s were a very exciting time in Russia, and 1996, with its presidential election, was a particularly crucial year. Seeing history in the making inspired Österdahl to write the first novel in the Max Anger series, Ask No Mercy. The series has been sold to more than ten territories and is soon to be a major TV series.

In 1996, Russia is preparing to vote in the first presidential election in country’s history. To save the democratic movement, western forces strikes a deal with the oligarchs and the generals. In doing so, the west unknowingly pave the way for Yeltsin’s successor, an unknown man working for the mayor of Saint Petersburg – Vladimir Putin.

In Stockholm, Sweden, a mysterious intrusion into the telecom infrastructure takes place. To Max Anger, ex-marine soldier and Russian expert at think tank Vektor, the attack look like the preparatory steps of an invasion. 

Max has tried to piece together the puzzle of his mysterious family background and found out that his father was born when Russian bomb planes dropped bombs over neutral Sweden’s capitol at the end of WW2. The official Russian excuse was erroneous navigation – Russia were at war with neighboring Finland – but Max discovers a well-hidden secret: that Stalin’s favorite spy, jailed in Stockholm and sentenced to life, was quietly returned to Moscow in the days following the attack…

At the start of Ask No Mercy, Max has to stop his private investigation when his girlfriend and colleague Pashie goes missing in Saint Petersburg. Is her disappearance connected to her work with the upcoming elections? Or is it Max’s personal research that has put her in harm’s way? 

Max’s hunt takes him through new Russia’s ruthless tech entrepreneurs and the ghosts of its dark Soviet past. To find the woman he loves and save his country Max has to question all that’s happening around him and everything he knows about himself.

The White Russian

Is the perfect partner to your Ask No Mercyread. The ice will help you cool down from the action and the coffee infusion will keep your head alert. And, because it so smooth, it won’t further upset your stomach during your encounters with the Stalinist conspiracy, so you can just keep drinking, until you reach the fitness level required to fully understand Russia.

The ingredients are:

  1 1/2 ounces vodka
  3/4 ounce coffee liqueur
  3/4 ounce cream

Three simple steps: 

The taste of vodka will be overpowered by the coffee liquor. So don’t go crazy on the brand, just make sure its Russian. I would recommend the standard Stolichnaya. Pour the Stoli into an old fashioned tumbler style glass filled with ice. Add coffee liquor of your liking, Kahlua being the most common choice but there are other makes too. Practice your bartending skills and float the cream on top of the spirits and ice. A clean layer makes for a great looking drink. 
Then serve with a straw, raise you glass and say: “Za zdorovie” – “to health”!


  1. I used to drink this all the time. Now I drink Black Russians. Thanks for the review.

  2. If I would come to this city again, I would be all over the rental spaces for parties. We ordered Spinach artichoke dip at the server's suggestion and it was absolutely delicious.