Russia in the early twenty-first century: a civil war has subsided into an uneasy peace; police inspector Constantin Vadim is transferred from Murmansk to head an investigation in a crime-ridden Moscow district. His task: to solve a succession of brutal murders committed by a killer who has become a terrifying local legend: The Monstrum. But Vadim has never investigated a murder. The real reason for his transfer is his uncanny resemblance to the new vice-president, Koba - Vadim is his double. Why has he been given the impossible mission to find The Monstrum? Is the case linked to the new government? Vadim finds himself on the bloodstained social fringe of Moscow and the very centre of the new Russia - a position which attracts the attention of his estranged wife, Julia Petrovna, a general in the defeated Anarchist army. Her capture would be a high prize for the men who run Vadim's life. And as Vadim pursues The Monstrum these two worlds move inexorably closer to one another, threatening both to crush the inspector before he can capture the killer and the emerging democracy before it is fully formed.