I enjoyed the book. I read a few bad reviews on Amazon, but I disagree with most of them. Although the plot is not as eventful you would expect from your average best-seller, there's never a feeling of the author wasting pages. Every chapter screams to be read, and what might seem slow to a Ken Follett reader is in fact the deep texture this book provides. I do not know Russia, and I can't judge how realistic the book actually is. It did sound believable to me, with just that much exaggeration as you expect from a work of fiction.
After a while the story does tend to give a feeling of too much happening to too few people - something I often get when I enjoy a new episode of the brilliant TV-series "24"... I thought another similarity with the Kiefer Sutherland starrer is the fact "Vodka" has characters that have to sometimes do bad stuff in order to get things done.
All in all, the book made me want to learn a little more on the fall of Soviet Union and on what happened during the transition to capitalism. Coincidentally, a few days after I finished the book I read a twin interview to Gorbachev and to the guy who organized the coup that erased him from the political scene. I was grateful to Boris Starling for giving me a fictional background to give some context to the period.