'Bartulin's Jack Susko is endearing, nostalgic and exciting in his parochialism — it feels uncommonly good to have Sydney come to life via the printed pages of a neo-noir novel without a hint of the cultural cringe that some domestic novels evoke.'
'Bartulin understands how to keep the reader turning pages. The chapters are short, crisp and involving and the characters fast-talking, with Jack able to wise-crack in the most dire circumstances.'
Nina Valentine, Ballarat Courier
'The Black Russian is Bartulin’s second novel featuring second-hand bookseller-turned-detective Jack Susko, and like its 2008 predecessor [A Deadly Business], it’s an entertaining, fast-paced crime thriller ... Bartulin clearly knows all the tricks of the hard-boiled trade, from the wisecracking amateur detective who’s always in over his head, to the plot twists and double-double crosses that keep you guessing right to the end. This is a fun read with lots of Sydney local colour and is highly recommended to all crime fans.' FOUR STARS
Tim Coronel, Bookseller & Publisher
'Lenny Bartulin [is] Australia's uniquely ironic answer to Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming.'
Jan Hallam, Courier Mail
'Jack’s a welcome edition to the pantheon of crime fiction smart-arses and, with his small network of second hand book dealers and other assorted supporting characters, The Black Russian reads kind of like Hiaasen and Chandler jamming on an Aussie reboot of Black Books. It’s sharp, its characters brilliantly rendered (Viktor Kablunak, its philosophical, melancholy Russian crim being a highlight) and it is funny.'
Cameron Ashley, Crime Factory
'Bartulin's disciplined prose flies along, dragging the reader through one twist after another, like a cartoon dog-walker clinging to a leash.'
'[The characters are] cleverly drawn as to fully engage the reader. Who wouldn't like a villain who can create a life philosophy out of James Bond? A bevy of treacherous (but beautiful) women and a cadre of would-be actors moonlighting in the criminal underworld rounds out the cast nicely and the action plays out against a sweltering Sydney summer that I could almost smell and taste due to the skill of Bartulin's writing.'
Fair Dinkum Crime
'A taut, Chandler-esque detective story, written with a deft comic touch.'
Cameron Woodhead, The Age
'The writing is polished, slick and full of wisecracks: the characters quirky, bordering on affectedly eccentric. There's more than an irreverent nod to Philip Marlowe in a fun and entertaining read.'
The Dominion Post Weekend
'There's an admirable precision to the language. The dialogue is snappy and funny. His visual description is fresh and resonant … Those who like their crime fiction fast, funny and offbeat will be rewarded here and will wish Susko Books stays in business for several books more.'
Ed Wright, Weekend Australian
'Struggling bookshop owner Jack stumbles upon an art gallery theft and, along with a mysterious object nicked from the safe, the robbers grab a valuable first edition from Jack. As this unusual mystery unfolds, Jack enters a world of deceit, theft and intrigue, the result being a work of art in itself.'
Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin