Review: Passion, Power & Sin by Mike Wells

 

Book 1 of Passion, Power & Sin

 

Note: Passion, Power & Sin is a freebie as well as all of Mike Wells’ first instalments in his series!

Title: Passion, Power & Sin

Subtitle: The Victim of a Global Internet Scam Plots Her Revenge

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Financial Thriller

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Passion, Power & Sin

Rating: 3.5/5

Have you ever wondered what would you do if you fell behind on your mortgage and you were to lose the house of your parents? This is the situation Heather Bancroft from Passion, Power & Sin has to face. Because she is in desperate need of money to save her North-Carolina house, the twenty-four-year-old woman moves to New York City hoping to get a good job fast, solve her financial issues and live a far better life than she did at home. Unfortunately, she ends up having a poorly paid job at a PR firm where her bosses belittle and treat her like their servant. Being stuck in a rut and with the approaching foreclosure procedure, Heather takes a leap of faith and enters into the world of illegal gambling with the help of an anonymous Friend in Need who sends her strange emails with obscure betting information and accurate predictions.

“If these predictions kept coming in as steadily as they had been, and she could keep betting on them, she might be able to save her mother’s house.” (Loc. 2613)

At first glance, Heather is clearly naïve and a dreamer, but she’d rather gamble and win a significant amount of money than asking her wealthy boyfriend David Windsor to help her, which is a sign of pride because she would feel humiliated and in more debt to do such a thing. However, even if Heather is an independent woman who wants to take matters into her own hands, she also makes mistakes, some of which are pretty stupid, but, I can’t blame her because she is in a desperate situation and she needs money fast regardless of her safety. For example, one of the emails she receives force her to go to a well-known metropolis, where she wants to bet on a sporting event, but she ends up tangled in the underbelly of that city. Though this part of the story was the most gripping and suspenseful, I think that your safety is more precious than anything else in the world and it’s not worth risking it. Though it’s pretty hard to root for Heather because she got involved in illegal betting, even if it was for a noble cause, I wanted to see her safe and I was curious to read about how much money she would win in order to save the house.

I love the way we enter into Heather’s mind and we observe how the psychology of addiction works. Though Heather does this questionable activity to save her family from debt, we cannot overlook the thrill she gets and the addictive effect of gambling just like in the case of narcotics or alcohol.  Similarly to a drug addict, Heather hides her shady activities from everyone else, including her roommate Percy or her boyfriend David. This book outlines scary yet fascinating aspects of the human mind; motivation and what despair can do to you. I also think that this story is pretty realistic because any naive or desperate person under financial pressure can fall victim to an Internet scam which may seem benign at first, but very nasty later.

I enjoyed the pacing of this novel, the suspenseful moments that drove me crazy with anticipation, the characters are morally grey and pretty realistic, the simple writing that makes the book easy to read and vivid descriptions of New York City and of another famous metropolis whose culture is very different from the one Heather grew up in. As for what I didn’t like about this book, I anticipated a twist by the end of the novel to turn everything upside down and to prepare the reader for the sequel. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any resolution for the first instalment and I was a bit disappointed. Also, I couldn’t find a section of the blurb in this book. Therefore, without a clear-cut resolution, the story was left hanging in mid-air as well as my expectations. However, I’m still interested in picking up the second book just to see what happens next to Heather.

Did any of you read this book? What do you think about it?

Review: Forbidden by Mike Wells and Devika Fernando

 Book 1 of Forbidden

A Novel of Love and Betrayal

Title: Forbidden

Subtitle: A Novel of Love and Betrayal

Authors: Mike Wells, Devika Fernando

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: Forbidden

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

For today’s post, I’ve decided to share with you the review I wrote for Forbidden, the first instalment in a romantic thriller series written by Mile Wells and co-authored by Devika Fernando. When I read this novel, there were only three books in the series, but the authors announced the release of the forth one in late June. There are some mixed opinions about the first book out there, but, in the end, you will decide whether it’s interesting enough for you or not. My opinions and rating are somewhere in the middle because this novel wasn’t that bad, it was pretty much an easy read, but I wanted a little more from content.

The novel follows two alternating plotlines and perspectives: Eleanor’s rebellious teenage years and Jayne’s story from the day she met Lady Eleanor Sotheby onwards, a shocking and life-changing discovery she has never imagined. Though the two plotlines are strongly linked to each other due to Eleanor’s presence, I think that Eleanor’s dark past is more interesting than the present because it’s more suspenseful and its pace is more dynamic than the other plotline which has a steadier pace and some of the events are pretty predictable if you ask me.

At first glance, Eleanor may seem cultured and posh, but her true temper leaks out when things don’t go her way, just like in her early life. She is ambitious, snobbish and now she cares what other socialites have to say about her or her daughter’s reputation. Eleanor is a morally grey and complex character and the way she acts reminds me of another unlikable yet well-built character, Kathy Brogan from Black Widow. Eleanor is also in charge of Jayne’s transformation into a cultured young lady to make her adapt much easier to the new lifestyle and challenges she has to face.

“And what was acting, anyway? Nothing more than being a good liar, and she was very accomplished at that. She had been “acting” ever since she could remember.” (Loc. 591)

 But how Eleanor became a filthy rich widow who has so many connections in socialite circles? Dark secrets should always be buried in the past and Eleanor guards them well because no one should find out how her life was like before becoming Lady Sotheby. She had to take many risks that suited her rebellious nature, but Celeste and Jayne don’t need to know that because the truth would shatter the picture perfect image of this rich widow and she can’t allow that to happen. Therefore, lies are a useful tool to paint the truth in brighter colours.

The rest of the characters are not complex as Lady Sotheby, but we can easily recognise who is Jayne and who is Celeste because Jayne is sweet, caring, introverted and a girl who works hard to support her loved ones despite her frequent asthma attacks, while Celeste is stubborn, spoiled, posh, self-absorbed, loves parties and speed. And talking about the two girls, one of my favourite scenes is when Jayne and Celeste meet, shock, curiosity and emotions overwhelm each other; it was a truly touching moment.

“This wasn’t her exact reflection she was looking at—this was a version of Jayne dressed in expensive designer clothes, with a fashionably short haircut, and decked out in expensive jewelry.” (Loc. 392)

To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled with the beginning of the book, but the hook came along with Jayne’s journey to Nice to meet Celeste. Though Jayne is a sweetheart and I liked her as a character, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes because I couldn’t be that selfless to help Celeste, whom I’ve recently met just because she did a mistake that threatens her reputation and Lady Sotheby’s ambitions. However, the book is interesting because you get a glimpse of how the lives of rich people really are, besides the glamour and the influence they have in their exclusive circles.

The writing is beautiful in the main story with an overall steady pace and realistic in Eleanor’s shady story building the suspense. I enjoyed most of the novel and the characters though I would have liked this first book to be longer because it ended a bit abruptly for my taste. I might pick up the second book someday, just to see how Jayne and Robert’s relationship develops, but only time will tell if I will still be interested in reading it.

Review: To Read or Not to Read by Vincent Hobbes

Title: To Read or Not to Read

Author: Vincent Hobbes

Genre: Horror, Short Story

First Published in 2011

Published by Hobbes End Publishing, LLC

Rating: 4/5 stars

“I rent time for people to read, Frau McClain. Time for people who have no time to spare.” Strauss’ eyes twinkled. (Loc. 192-193)

I picked up To Read or Not to Read by Vincent Hobbes a few years ago and I rated it pretty low because I didn’t know at the time that I was reading a short story belonging to the horror genre. However, now I thought that I needed to reread it and re-evaluate the story because I grew up as a reader and I’ve read a more diverse range of books than I used to four years ago.

This story revolves around a quaint little bookstore named Strauss Books after its German owner’s name, Mr Günter von Strauss, a secret place known only to a few people. Despite the fact that Strauss is a mysterious and eccentric old man who rips out pages from the books he stacks to keep his clients safe, he is very polite and friendly to the people who enter his bookstore, including Shelby McClain, the woman whom we follow throughout the entire story. Should she follow her instinct and leave this odd place or should she give in, pick a book and see what happens? Are Mr Strauss’ books magical as the customers claim? Read and you will find out!

I love the concept of a magic bookstore, where you can buy time to read and experience the book of your choice for a few minutes. It’s a bit like in Eliade’s novella, where time flows differently after you close the door behind you and the rules of the outside world just vanish away. The story has a steady pace, it’s suspenseful, the writing is simple but it suits the narrative well and the characters have distinguishable voices. I personally wanted to learn more about the German librarian, who seems to be a kind of link between two very different worlds.

I hope that this review sparked your interest in reading this short and enjoyable book. Personally, I’m glad that I finally gave it a second chance, it was definitely worth it. Happy reading everyone!

Review: Wild Child by Mike Wells

Book 1 of Wild Child

A Teenage Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller

 

Note: Wild Child, as well as all of Mike Wells’ first instalments in his series, is a freebie!

 

Title: Wild Child

Subtitle: A Teenage Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

First published: 1998

Year of Publication of This Edition: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Wild Child

Rating: 2/5 stars

Here’s that time again when I post a review for a book I didn’t enjoy. As a side note, I devoured most of Mike Wells’ thrillers I read and he is definitely one of my favourite writers, but sometimes I happen to come across a book that isn’t my cup of tea or it doesn’t feel specific to the author’s style. So, as awkward as it may seem, I have to underline how I feel about the story, hoping that the devoted fans of the book will respect my opinion because we all come from different cultures and see the world through our unique perspective.

Wild Child is the first instalment in Mr Mike Wells’ eponymous trilogy and it’s A Teenage Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller, which made me curious to pick it up, taking in consideration the fact that the author usually writes series for an adult audience. In short, Kyle Dunlap and Briana Fox are two teenage friends who go for a swim in Lake Carlton, but Briana has a terrible boating accident and you would expect her to die. . However, she survives due to a mysterious green substance she finds at the bottom of the lake. After this drug-like healing water is tested, two government officials question Kyle about the location of this strange water that heals wounds and fortifies the body. Will Kyle give in and reveal the location of the mysterious pool of green water? And what will happen to Briana who can’t get enough of that strange substance?

Though the premise was interesting – the strange healing water that also acts like a drug – I didn’t feel invested into the story because the plot was a bit thin and the characters were underdeveloped. Briana is bossy, overly stubborn and rushes headlong into danger. I found her very annoying in the first chapters, but her wild nature calms down a bit when the effects of the magic water fade away. On the other hand, Kyle is quiet, cautious and more sensible than Briana, even though he acts a bit too boldly in front of the two government officials. And speaking of those two CIA agents, I think that this part of the story is a little far-fetched due to the lack of depth of the plot. Okay, I understand that this book is part of a trilogy, but besides a few suspenseful moments, which are characteristic of Mr Wells’ writing style, the story fell flat. The writing was okay and the descriptions of the lake and caves were interesting, but it didn’t do much for me. Though the book is around 100 pages, I got bored while reading it and I pushed through just to see if it gets better. The suspenseful moments and an ingenious twist saved the book from hitting the bottom of the rating scale.

In the end, those were the thoughts I wanted to share with you about Wild Child. I don’t know if I should recommend it or not because I didn’t enjoy it that much; but if you are still curious, you can check it out. Personally, I think that I will stick with the author’s adult series because they are more my thing.

 

Review: Black Widow by Mike Wells

 

Book 10 of Lust, Money & Murder

Title: Black Widow

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2017

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: “I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book so I could give an honest review.

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it, because this article contains spoilers from the first book!

In case I haven’t bored you enough or even annoyed you with my favourite espionage series, today I’m going to write a few paragraphs about Mike Wells’ most recent book in this series, Black Widow, where Elaine is forced to confront and relive her past.

Six months after the events from the ninth book, Elaine Brogan receives an unexpected visitor, whom she hasn’t seen in years.  Kathy, whose identity I won’t reveal, came to Elaine’s farmhouse to ask for help and to reveal a terrible truth about Patrick Brogan’s death. As if the reencounter with this strange yet familiar person wasn’t enough to shock Elaine, now she was to cope with her old wounds too. In order to find out the truth about the suspect aka Spyro Leandrou aka Kathy’s husband, Elaine needs to go to Santorini (Greece) and pose as a governess for Leandrou’s illegitimate son. Meanwhile, Luna goes to Pittsburgh to investigate Patrick’s case.

Kathy is a character I didn’t like that much because she had the gut to appear again in Elaine’s life out of the blue to seek help because she feared for her life. No wonder Elaine reacted the way she did in the first chapters because she didn’t trust Kathy even a bit.  However, things might begin to change in Greece, where the two will pretend to be employer and employee. Kathy is apparently refined and ladylike; instead, she’s insecure and she hasn’t quit her lifelong vices. The thing that annoyed me the most about her was the way she got rid of the Canadian governess. Okay, I understand that Kathy needed to make room to facilitate Elaine’s access into Spyro Leandrou’s house, but the way Kathy did it made me shake my head in disapproval, to say the least.

As for Spyro Leandrou, who is a criminal, according to what Kathy and Cattoretti said: the Greek tycoon seems to have a good side too: he shows his unconditional love to his son Alex, for whom he provided a thorough education both for his mind and body. On the other hand, if we look at Kathy and Elaine’s relationship, it will change a bit for the better; Elaine discovers qualities and abilities Kathy didn’t seem to have before.

This book was pretty steady-paced (with a few exceptions) because Elaine, Luna and Dimitry go on this new mission to gather information and to enable Elaine’s access to Leandrou’s criminal activity. The book has beautiful descriptive passages about Dubrovnik (Croatia), Oia and Fira (Santorini, Greece) which made my heart swell with joy because I’ve visited those places at least twice until now. The narrator makes fun of the unspoken rules of Greece, which seem very strange for Westerners, as well as Dimitry’s mentality, which I can understand to a certain point. Anyway, it was an interesting read and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

Review: Escape from Sudan by Mike Wells

Book 9 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Escape from Sudan

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 5/5 stars

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it, because this article contains spoilers from the first book!

Blood diamonds, she thought. That’s exactly what these are. She felt almost as superstitious as the Africans now, as if the pink diamonds themselves had somehow caused all this hardship and death.” (Loc. 2421-2423).

As some of you already know, Lust, Money & Murder is one of my favourite series and, even though I’ve taken a break from it for a few months, here I am writing a review for the ninth book, which is entitled Escape from Sudan.

Elaine Brogan reveals her true identity to Stanley Ketchum, but the former-CIA agent doesn’t believe that the pretty blond is a U.S. Secret Service agent, but ‘some gold digger who was working with Raj to get her hands on the diamond mine”. (Loc. 456-457) Therefore, in order to push the mission forward, Elaine must convince Stan to cooperate and she hopes that he will not inform Raj about her (and Luna’s) unofficial investigation on Malik and his illegal smuggling. Will Ketchum’s conditions change the initial plan? How will Cattoretti react? Caught between Cattoretti’s plan and the investigation, Elaine Brogan must also cope with the frequent attacks from the Janjaweed warriors, who constantly follow them.

Meanwhile, back in Tangier, Nick LaGrange has problems of his own: from questioning his wife’s relationship with Cattoretti, finding out the truth about Isabella, to being held prisoner by some Ukrainian gangsters. What’s real and what isn’t? How will Nick manage to escape and what other risky missions will he have to go on?

This book was an emotional roller-coaster for me because some plans change; others almost fall apart due to dangerous situations, mistrust or new information, which took me by surprise as if they punched me in the face. This novel is one of the bloodiest of the entire series and almost everyone gets shot or hurt at least once. I was shocked, I was surprised, sometimes even disgusted, but I laughed when a character or a scene was funny and I rooted for Elaine and Nick to escape from the life-threatening situations they were into. You never know how things will end even when you are inches away from finishing the book.

Review: Blood Diamonds by Mike Wells

Book 8 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Blood Diamonds

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book, because this article contains spoilers from it!

Towards the end of Book 7, Elaine Brogan is obliged to join forces with Giorgio Cattoretti, in order to bring Raj Malik down as a revenge for what Malik did to her and Nick. According to Cattoretti, Raj’s wealth is based on the profit he makes from smuggling diamonds from a secret cave in a war zone from central Africa. Though Elaine thinks this mission is very risky, she wants to bust Raj for everything he has done, while the Italian mastermind is most of all interested in the rare pink diamonds themselves. For this mission, Elaine has to track down Stanley Ketchum, the ex-CIA agent who supplies Raj Malik with the precious diamonds and to use her charms to find out the exact location of the mine and to give the coordinates to Cattoretti.

Meanwhile, Nick, who escaped from the black site with the apparently mute nurse, Alisha, discovers that she is actually Isabella, the woman who blew up one of his undercover missions from the past that might have killed him. Though Nick is disgusted with what Isabella did to him a few years ago, he wants to know if she was linked in any way to the attack from the black site and to those who hold Elaine hostage. Though the reencounter with Isabella stirs some mixed feelings in Nick, he is equally worried about what had happened to Elaine and even insecure at the thought of her being again with Cattoretti. Even if Isabella’s presence annoys Nick, he reluctantly accepts her offer to help him look for Elaine, in exchange for a service he has to return.

Elaine’s journey through Northern and Central Africa is remarkably built and written through the way Mr Wells depicts and outlines the local cultures of Morocco, Chad and Sudan, the issue of poverty, war and extremism, international aid and dangerous encounters with wild animals. Though changing her identity is a piece of cake for Elaine, I think that here she plays her best role pretending to be a Texas trophy wife with the purpose of seducing Stan and hoping she will have the opportunity to see the diamond mine up close.

Will she get what Cattoretti wants without making Stanley too interested in her? I’ll let you find out for yourselves.

Review: Off the Grid by Mike Wells

Book 7 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: Off the Grid

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2016

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Warning: Lust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it

In the beginning of the seventh book, Elaine Brogan and Nick LaGrange drive to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where they are arrested on the spot for letting Cattoretti go. Ouch! It looks like Raj Malik found out somehow what the two secret agents did and he decided that it would be better to put them in prison and interrogate them whenever he likes. There, we enter the abominable hell Elaine lives in; terrifying thoughts cross her mind that she will not see Nick or her children again, she endures the humiliation of staying into a windowless, stinky cell and she undergoes various methods of torture (such as loud metal music, sleep deprivation, starvation) which gradually affect her mind and senses. Unlike his wife, Nick copes a little better with this subhuman treatment, because he worked as a professional extractor if you still remember from book 6. But how can he escape without his equipment? Did Elaine and Nick reach a dead end? Will anyone help them get out of this obscure place? Read the book and you will find out.

A secondary plotline stretches in front of our eyes and we read about Luna Faye’s story: her mixed-race origins, the traumas caused by the kids at school who bullied her and made fun of her size and looks, the reasons why she became interested in Martial Arts and in a career as an FBI agent. For me, it is fascinating how mature Luna was in her teen years and what a strong sense of justice she had at that time in her life. Becoming an FBI agent, she is sent to investigate the case of a famous serial killer that inspired her to enter the field of forensics. In this part of the book, you will also understand why Luna is so afraid of flying and how she managed to stop the serial killer and his accomplice from getting away.

Elaine and Nick’s imprisonment and some events that take place in the second part of the book were a bit scary, thought-provoking, but they made me read on. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about Luna’ story. It was a little too long for my taste, as well as Dimitry’s mission to follow Raj everywhere he goes. I am a devoted fan of this series, but I had some mixed feelings while reading Off the Grid and I’m not so sure if I still want to continue reading it. The premise for the eighth book is pretty tempting, but what if the digressions or secondary plots bore me like it happened in this case?

I guess I’ll have enough time to answer this question until the next book comes out. I’m not a big fan of book series and I’m pretty surprised that I came so far with Lust, Money & Murder, which means a lot, but for my curiosity to be fully satisfied, the eighth book needs to be more dynamic (especially the first half of it) and maybe as engaging as On Russian Soil, for example. However, this is my personal and honest opinion and suggestion. I’m not scolding Mr Wells, but if nowadays we have the privilege to connect with the authors of our favourite books, why we shouldn’t analyse their works critically, for the benefits of both writers and readers? I hope that my thoughts about this book will not spoil your excitement about it, but a reviewer’s purpose is to notice both the highs and lows of a book. Until next time!

Review: The Extraction by Mike Wells

Book 6 of Lust, Money & Murder

 

Title: The Extraction

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 4/5 stars

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

I just can’t believe how addicted I am to this series. The cliff-hanger from the previous book was so well done and so intriguing that I couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen to Elaine Brogan and how she would overcome a certain life-threatening situation.

In the beginning of the sixth book, Raj Malik receives Elaine’s message and then the “head of the U.S. Secret Service operations in Europe” (Loc. 27) calls Leon Gilmour, a professional extractor, who rescues American assets from neutral or hostile countries. He must extract a young American agent who is suffering from hypothermia and wolf bites. It also seems that she is held hostage by an insurgent and Leon must deal with him too. Afterwards, he must destroy any evidence of struggle or gunshots before the police find them.

Some important events and secrets from Leon’s past are uncovered, though the hint given by the narrator in one of the first chapters will definitely make the readers of the previous books recognise him immediately. However, I will not reveal the name of the character. I can only add that life can sometimes be very ironic.

In this book, we can see how twisted Cattoretti’s mind is (more than ever if you ask me), what plans he has got regarding Elaine, her family and her saviour. How evil can a criminal mastermind get? However, after returning home, Elaine hatches a plan to find Cattoretti’s hideout, because he has kidnapped Tony, but also to find out where Lexy and Cattoretti’s son was taken without the mother’s consent.

The book is full of amazing elements: split missions through which the agents find more information about Cattorretti and his accomplices, epic fights in unexpected places, adrenaline, suspense, but also a bit of humour every now and then. However, the story is not over yet because we have to explore the seventh book.

 

Review: On Russian Soil by Mike Wells

Book 5 of Lust, Money & Murder

The Undercover Hunt For An International Criminal

 

Title: On Russian Soil

Subtitle: The Undercover Hunt For An International Criminal

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Espionage

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Lust, Money & Murder

Rating: 5/5 stars

WarningLust Money & Murder is a book series where every book is the continuation of the previous one. If you haven’t read the book series and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing the previous book because this article contains spoilers from it!

After mastermind Georgio Cattoretti succeeds in stealing the entire collection of Picasso paintings from Hermitage Museum, the Russian Government surprisingly asks the United States “to send someone from the FBI Art Crime Team over to help them on the case” (Loc. 4974, Book 4). And who is the most suitable person to go on an undercover mission to St. Petersburg, to catch the international criminal? Elaine Brogan, of course.

However, her biggest challenges are: she has to pose as an FBI Art Crime detective, then she must catch Cattoretti before the Russian police does and she also needs to figure out a plan “to lure him out of Russia (…) or trick him in crossing the border into Latvia or Lithuania or Estonia” (Loc. 43) from where he can be extradited to the U.S. authorities and judged for his crimes. Elaine is not thrilled about her mission because of her lack of knowledge in art crime and also for the way Cattoretti treated her in the past, including his attempt to kill her. But in the end, she is left with no other choice but to obey the orders of her superior. How will she accomplish her complex assignment with all the risks it implies? And another important aspect is this: how will she complete her undercover mission without raising suspicions from Russian art crime expert, Inspector Sergei Amperov and his team?

I won’t actually give you too many details because this book is very well-built and the interesting journey is more enjoyable when you don’t know what to expect from this part of the series. The narration resembles a mystery book, though the reader knows from the start who committed the art heist. The deductions regarding the heist, the criminal’s intentions, the identity of the accomplices who helped him and the plan to catch the Italian mastermind and to bring back the priceless paintings safe and sound are the main parts of the story. I think that this particular book resembles a modern Sherlock investigation with high-tech surveillance gadgets, while the action is placed on Russian soil mixed with local culture and mentality. I also love the way the author describes the gloomy winter weather and the majestic historic buildings of St. Petersburg, not to mention the lavish Hermitages Museum itself.

 

This is all I have to say about On Russian Soil. Until next time!