Odesa at Dawn

‘As befits any book set in Odesa, Sally McGrane’s smart new thriller bristles with dark humour, slinking along and zigzagging through its plot like one of the city’s streetwise felines. Come for the story, but don’t forget to take in the sights.’ Boris Dralyuk, poet and translator of Isaac Babel.

Ex-CIA man Max Rushmore travels to a still-peaceful Odesa on routine assignment. But things veer off course when the severed hand of the local governor shows up in a vat of sunflower oil. Max stumbles across a solitary toe, with the same tell-tale markings. The downsized professional can’t help himself – he has to investigate.

With the Russian threat in the background, Max’s quest takes him down to the crumbling underbelly of the beautiful Black Sea port city, once the Russian Empire’s glittering third capital. It leads him to dubious businessmen, corrupt officials, catacomb dwellers, scientists, pastry-chefs, poets, archivists, cops – and killers.

As global political tensions rise, Max begins to untangle the threads of the case. But he is also being tracked – and not just by Odesa’s network of mafia-minded stray cats, who may be the only ones who really know what’s going on.

In this surreal contemporary spin on the classic spy thriller, Sally McGrane pays tribute to one-time Odesa residents like Babel, Gogol, Pushkin and Chekhov, creating a darkly witty, beguiling and bizarre work of fiction like nothing before.

Tokarczuk meets Bulgakov meets Le Carré, in this affectionate portrait of a complex and fascinating city.

Odesa at Dawn lives in that special place where noir meets the absurd. If you cherish that space – and why wouldn’t you? – this book is for you.” Dan Vyleta, author of Soot and Smoke.

“By turns sober, then wild and mysterious, with occasional excursions into the fantastic. As if Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Isaac Babel’s legendary gangster Benya Krik had met up for new tales from Odesa.” Peter Körte, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

  • Odesa at Dawn
    eBook 5.99 GBP
    15 September 2022
  • Odesa at Dawn
    Book 12.99 GBP
    15 September 2022

'McGrane’s love for Odesa shines through from start to finish, and as well as providing an entertaining and often dramatic read, she’s also painted a marvellous picture of the city.'

Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

'McGrane’s sparky, wry, highly observant writing style … is free-wheeling in all the best ways.'

Mrs Peabody Investigates

'a thoroughly, fascinating novel combining elements of weird science with more traditional spy genre elements.'


‘Odesa at Dawn lives in that special place where the noir meets the absurd. If you cherish that space – and why wouldn't you? – this book is for you.’

Dan Vyleta, author of Smoke