Starling, Boris 1969–

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Starling, Boris 1969–


Born 1969. Education: Trinity College, Cambridge, graduated.


Home—London, England. Agent—Caradoc King, AP Watt Ltd., 20 John St., London WC1N 2DR, England.


Journalist, writer, and consultant. Worked with a company involved in kidnap negotiations and confidential investigations; reporter for the Sun and the Daily Telegraph, both in London, England.



Messiah, HarperCollins (London, England), 1999.

Storm, Signet (New York, NY), 2000.

Vodka, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

Visibility, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of a television screenplay based on his novel Messiah.


Boris Starling is the author of several thrillers, beginning with his 1999 novel, Messiah, a story about a serial killer who murders men, cuts out their tongues, and leaves silver spoons in their mouths. Redfern Metcalfe, a Scotland Yard detective known for his ability to track down serial killers, chooses a team to help him hunt the madman while dealing with some secrets of his own. Writing for Tangled Web UK Review Online, Martin Edwards noted: "Short snappy chapters and a present-tense narrative style … contribute to the pace." Edwards added: "This is a gripping mystery and augurs exceptionally well for Starling's future in the genre." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author's "debut sustains a sense of fear and uneasiness" and observed that even when "the case is close to resolution, Starling manages to step up the already considerable tension."

In Storm, Starling once again delves into the mind of a serial killer who horrifically dispatches his victims, this time by forcing rats to eat the victims' stomachs. The killer is dubbed the Blackadder because he leaves a snake on his victims' bodies; he also chooses his victims based on the characters in the Greek tragedy Oresteia. On the gruesome case is Detective Chief Inspector Kate Beauchamp, who is trying to overcome her own guilt about being one of the few survivors of a ferry accident. Unknown to Beauchamp, however, the murderer is someone with whom she has had an emotional relationship. "Starling expertly renders a strong heroine," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted, adding that the author "skillfully builds the suspense as he joins various plot lines to the main story and slowly reveals the killer's identity."

Vodka, Starling's next effort, takes place in Moscow, Russia, in 1991. The country is struggling with its new democratic freedoms and continuing economic hardships, including food shortages. Furthermore, a powerful Mafia organization has gained wide influence, and a vampire-like serial killer is murdering children. When the beautiful Alice Liddel, an International Monetary Fund advisor, arrives to help privatize local industry, she focuses first on the Red October vodka distillery. In the process, she begins a romance with Lev, who runs the distillery while moonlighting as both a gang leader and a parliamentary deputy. An Economist contributor felt that the book includes too many subplots and themes to track, noting that "the result is like one of the gargantuan but indigestible banquets [Starling] describes so vividly: impressive but over-elaborate, with some dishes overcooked and others raw." A Publishers Weekly contributor, however, commented that "this great mass of detail is so fascinating that delighted readers will gulp it down like the novel's free-flowing, ubiquitous vodka." In a review for Booklist, David Wright asserted that Vodka is a "sprawling spectacle … awash with detailed background, punctuated by swift and ruthless action that sweeps in off the steppes with bloodthirsty ferocity."

Visibility, Starling's next thriller, takes place in London at the end of 1952. The title serves multiple purposes, referring not only to the fog so prevalent in London that year but also the undercover nature of espionage and one of the characters—who is blind. When Max Stensness, a biochemist, is murdered, Detective Herbert Smith is assigned the case, despite his lack of popularity at New Scotland Yard due to his previous employment with MI-5. Stensness's death appears to be connected to his work, which had something to do with a new revelation concerning DNA, and the case takes on international proportions, forcing Smith to deal with American and Russian intelligence personnel, as well as his fellow Brits. Keith Miles, writing for Shots Magazine, praised Starling's effort for offering readers "excitement galore, suspense aplenty and toe-curling horror, all firmly grounded on a solid narrative base." In a review for Mostly Fiction, Eleanor Bukowsky noted that "the book's sole flaw is its over-the-top ending that veers dangerously close to melodrama," but overall enjoyed the "deadly game of spy vs. spy that, much like the book's impenetrable fog, keeps the reader off-balance until the truth is finally revealed." Adam LeBor, writing for the New Statesman, called Starling's effort "an intelligent and thought-provoking book, one that asks lingering questions about the very nature of loyalty and love." A critic for Kirkus Reviews dubbed it "multilayered fiction playing skillfully with shades of fact."



Booklist, January 1, 2005, David Wright, review of Vodka, p. 828.

Economist, March 20, 2004, review of Vodka, p. 93.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2006, review of Visibility, p. 986.

Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Barbara Conaty, review of Vodka, p. 101.

MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Vodka.

New Statesman, October 16, 2006, Adam LeBor, "Lost in the Mists," p. 59.

Publishers Weekly, August 2, 1999, review of Messiah, p. 80; October 23, 2000, review of Storm, p. 62; January 10, 2005, review of Vodka, p. 37.

ONLINE, (March 9, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Vodka.

Boris Starling Home Page, (March 9, 2005).

HarperCollins Australia Web site, (March 9, 2005), interview with Starling.

Mostly Fiction, (April 10, 2007), Eleanor Bukowsky, review of Visibility.

Shots Magazine, (June 10, 2007), Keith Miles, review of Visibility.

Tangled Web UK Review Online, (March 9, 2005), Martin Edwards, review of Messiah.