Posted in Reviews

Review of the Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

*Note: This book was an advanced reader’s copy from Net Galley. It will be published on March 14, 2023, and is available for pre-order on Amazon at

****4 stars

I would’ve given this book 5 stars because it’s an excellent read. However, I had a problem following the large number of characters that were included during various time periods of the novel and how they went by different names and nicknames. The main story takes place in 1991. It centers around Rosie White, (Raisa), who attends a book signing by Alexy Invanov, a Russian author. Her interest in his book, “The Last Bolshevik,” is mainly because her mother and she escaped Russia after her father and sister were murdered there by an unknown man. Her mother has since referred to him as “That Man,” but has shared very little with Rosie about her past or why her husband and daughter may have been killed.

Rosie speaks with Alexy after his reading and learns that he needs an assistant to accompany him to Russia to work on another project. Considering it an opportunity to learn more about her past and find out who murdered her sister and father, Rosie applies for the job. Initially, Rosie’s mother, an alcoholic who only tells Rosie fairytales and keeps lifelike porcelain dolls, isn’t supportive of that decision but, on her deathbed, she asks Rosie to go to Russia and find “That Man.”

After her mother’s death, Rosie finds a key inside one of her dolls and a note indicating that it opens a drawer in their old house in Russia. When Rosie travels to Russia with Alexy, he takes her to a house where he leaves her with a man named Levy who is supposedly in charge of protecting her while Alexy is away.

The book then alternates between 1991 and the past, telling a love story that starts in 1916 between a woman named Tonya, married to Dmitry, a rich man who owns a factory in St. Petersburg, and Valentin, a factory worker and revolutionary. It also includes the fairytales told by Rosie’s mother that play a large part in the book. I compared it to Kristin Hannah’s novel, Winter Garden, that I recently read, which also included Russian history.

As Rosie investigates her mother’s background, she learns of a connection between Tonya and Valentin. She begins to suspect that Alexy has an ulterior motive for hiring her as his assistant. She wonders about his identity and starts to have visions of her dead sister, who seems to be giving her clues. She also develops feelings for Lev, even though she’s left her fiancee back in England.

This story is multi-layered. It involves a love story, Russian history, and much more. There are two big twists at the end that I didn’t see coming at all.



I'm a retired librarian and the author of the Cobble Cove and Buttercup Bend cozy mystery series and other novels, short stories, poems, articles, and a novella. My books include CLOUDY RAINBOW, REASON TO DIE, SEA SCOPE, MEMORY MAKERS, TIME'S RELATIVE, MEOWS AND PURRS, and MEMORIES AND MEOWS. My Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing consists of 6 books: A STONE'S THROW, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, WRITTEN IN STONE, LOVE ON THE ROCKS, NO GRAVESTONE UNTURNED, and SNEAKY'S SUPERNATURAL MYSTERY AND OTHER COBBLE COVE STORIES. My new Buttercup Bend series published by Next Chapter Publishing includes THE CASE OF THE CAT CRAZY LADY and THE CASE OF THE PARROT LOVING PROFESSOR. I've also written a romantic comedy novella, WHEN JACK TRUMPS ACE, and short stories of various genres published as eBooks and in anthologies published by the Red Penguin Collection. My poetry appears in the Nassau County Voices in Verse and the Bard's Annual. I'm a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writers' Association. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and 2 cats.

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