1. Leo's character evolves over the course of the book. What do you see as the most significant catalyst for change?
2. What propels Leo to go forward in his quest for the murderer: fear, compassion, or a sense of justice?
3. The relationship between Vasili and Leo is contentious from the beginning. Does Vasili feel pure hate, contempt, or jealousy for Leo? Why?
4. When Raisa reveals the truth of their marriage to Leo, were you surprised at his reaction? Would you have made similar choices under the circumstances? When does personal conviction trump duty and loyalty?
5. Who do you think was ultimately responsible for incriminating Raisa. What would it be like to live in a society in which everyone is under suspicion of crimes against the state?
6. Does the book's portrayal of life in a totalitarian state remind you of any other books?
7. In 1953, the year of Stalin's death, there were 2,468,524 prisoners in the Gulag system. Do you think that legacy affects Russian culture today?
8. Which character's duplicity or innocence did you find most surprising, and why?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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