Author: Raymond Khoury
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult (Penguin Group USA)
Genre: historical fiction, contemporary, thriller, suspense, mystery
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
"...this is going to be the century of the mind. The technology's finally here for it. And these discoveries...they'll have the ability to either free us to explore our minds and reach higher potentials that we never dreamed about - or they're going to enslave us. And it's going to be very tough to explore the first without opening the door to the second."
Fact no. 1
Grigori Yefimovic Rasputin (1869-1916) was a Russian peasant with an intense and mesmeric gaze. Illiterate and mystic, he became a close confidant of the Romanovs: the tsar and tsarina considered him a healer, a spiritual guide, a political adviser. For many others, he was just an imposter, a wolf in sheep clothes, the Antichrist. The truth of the matter is that he healed Nicolas and Alexandra Romanov's hemophiliac son with the use of hypnosis, and used his personal influence on the weak tsar and his neurotic wife to shape the destiny of Imperial Russia. A complex figure: a mysterious blend of righteousness and amorality, spirituality and ambition.
Fact no. 2
Brainwave entrainment is a real practice and, thanks to an aural stimulus (the binaural beats were discovered in 1939 by Prussian physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove), it can induce and control different emotional states. As ancient as the drum beats used in shamanic societies, nowadays this technology, combined with a more sophisticated equipment, is allegedly used by the Russian government to produce "psychotronic" weaponry.
Fact no. 3
Leave it to Raymond Khoury's highly imaginative and prolific mind to find a plausible connection between historical truths and urban legends. The cinematic approach of his writing style is a winning combination of dynamic narrative perspectives and multi-layered plot folds: 1916 Russian Empire and present day New York City; an heretical 'monk' driving an empire to disaster and a scientist trying to keep a brain-manipulating technology from falling into the wrong hands on both sides of a still existing Iron Curtain.
"An insidious new weapon was about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Pain and suffering to innocents would inevitably ensue. There would be all kinds of ramifications, all kinds of uses Sokolov hadn't even dreamed of yet, but that others would. They always did. There were many out there who were more than happy to let their imaginations take them to the darkest corners of the human psyche..."
I was hooked line and sinker on this thriller. A break-neck pace and a clever, very well executed relay of shifting POVs - a narrating formula not that common and most of all not so easy to master. The action driven plot and the intriguing historical premises pinned me down to my seat and kept me on the edge, relentlessly. From cover to cover. No good news for my sleep deprivation problem...
On a cold, bleak day in 1916, all hell breaks loose in a mining pit in the Ural Mountains. Overcome by a strange paranoia, the miners attack one another, savagely and ferociously. Minutes later, two men—a horrified scientist and Grigory Rasputin, trusted confidant of the tsar—hit a detonator, blowing up the mine to conceal all evidence of the carnage.
In the present day, FBI agent Sean Reilly’s search for Reed Corrigan, the CIA mindcontrol spook who brainwashed Reilly’s son, takes a backseat to a new, disturbing case. A Russian embassy attaché seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of a fourth-floor window in Queens. The apartment’s owners, a retired physics teacher from Russia and his wife, have gone missing, and further investigation reveals that the former may not be who the FBI believe him to be.
Joined by Russian Federal Security Service agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva, Reilly’s investigation of the old man’s identity will uncover a desperate search for a small, mysterious device, with consequences that reach back in time and which, in the wrong hands, could have a devastating impact on the modern world.
Raymond Khoury is the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil's Elixir, The Templar Salvation, The Last Templar, The Sanctuary, and The Sign. Also an acclaimed screenwriter, he lives in London. Visit his official Facebook page or his website www.raymondkhoury.com for more information and further reading.
Read my Q&A with Raymond Khoury here.
***Review copy graciously offered by the publicist in return for an unbiased and honest opinion