Moscow, March 1953: As Stalin breathes his last, four women meet in Room 408 of the luxurious hotel Metropol. They have gathred to reminisce about the great poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, whose work they once inspired. Following his mysterious suicide twenty-five years earlier, he was canonised by Stalin - but in life he was a far more complicated man, violently torn between art and politics. As his muses piece together their conflicting memories of the man, a portrait of the artist as a tormented young idealist emerges, revealing him as a sexual obsessive caught in the eye of history's storm, struggling to hold on to his ideals in the face of a revolution betrayed. In Vladimir M., Robert Littell creates a provocative cocktail of fiction and reality, bringing to life the tumultuous Stalinist era and the disaster it spelt for the artists it ensnared.