Grigory Efimovich Rasputin remains one of the most controversial and infamous figures in Russian history. Rising to prominence initially as the spiritual advisor and healer to the Romanov family, Rasputin later found himself embroiled in much controversy and political strife. In particular, the mysterious nature of his being has caused speculation that he was impossible to kill.
To vanquish Rasputin, his enemies were forced to poison him, shoot him several times, and drown him in the Neva River. What makes this event so eerie is that this allegedly was not the first attempt on his life. As a result, the character of Rasputin has become fodder for many speculative fictional accounts in the decades since his demise.
"Raymond Khoury continues to remain one of the top novelists in the historical fiction genre, and RASPUTIN’S SHADOW is a worthy entry in his series."
Raymond Khoury’s latest effort in his series featuring FBI Agent Sean Reilly is titled RASPUTIN’S SHADOW. The novel opens with a tragic event set within the Ural Mountains in Russia during the year 1916. For some inexplicable reason, a group of miners working in the depths of the Urals go berzerk and kill each other in extremely violent fashion. Legend tells that this event may have been sparked by a mysterious device operated by a Russian scientist named Misha, and Grigory Rasputin himself.
The action then shifts to the present, and Agent Reilly finds himself on a case set in Queens, New York. Queens is a true melting pot of ethnic groups that includes an area with many Russian immigrants. The focus is on a building in Astoria, Queens, where a Russian embassy attaché has leapt to his death. The owner of the apartment is Leo Sokolov, a retired physics teacher also of Russian descent. He is nowhere to be found and instantly becomes the subject of a search conducted by the NYPD in conjunction with the FBI.
Reilly realizes that the search for Sokolov is much larger than it appears. This is validated by the fact that an agent from the Russian FSB named Larisa Tchoumitcheva appears with a special interest in locating Sokolov. Reilly recognizes that Sokolov is only part of the puzzle. The other part is the mysterious device of which he is allegedly in possession --- the very same device that may have been used by Rasputin in 1916.
The good guys are not the only ones interested in finding Sokolov and his device. A group of extremely dangerous political terrorists have their own deadly agenda that includes commandeering this device and using it as the primary weapon in a planned terrorist attack. Can Reilly and his colleagues, both local and international, find Sokolov and his device before their enemies do? What transpires is a historically infused high-caliber thriller that never slows down until the breathless finale.
Raymond Khoury continues to remain one of the top novelists in the historical fiction genre, and RASPUTIN’S SHADOW is a worthy entry in his series. I eagerly await the next installment to see where in history Khoury transports readers next!
Reviewed by Ray Palen on October 8, 2013