The Lubyanka Strategy
by Robert Bonelli
An American CIA agent and a Russian FSB agent are both murdered in Moscow. Michael Clark, an independent contractor for the CIA, is assigned to ferret out the truth. However, Clark also works for a multi-national consulting firm, Bricksen Grove. One of BR’s clients is Enerprov, owned by Andrei Chekhov, who was involved in the murder of the agents. However, an even bigger danger looms as both Russian and American intelligence have detected a possible major terrorist threat.
Andrei Chekhov: 48, owner of Enerprov, father who was founder of the company is dead, degree in geology from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, three sisters, married with three daughters,
James Harris: Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, married, two sons, family is in the oil business
Peter Jenkins: 63, CEO of Bricksen, Grove, a global consulting firm based out of New York, tall
Michael Clark: 56, 5’10”, 160 pounds, fit, wife and daughter killed by terrorists, served in the Army, served in Desert Storm, works security for Bricksen, Grove, also is an independent contractor for the CIA
David Capella: 60, Clark’s CIA handler, tall, average build, receding hairline, wears glasses
Anya Petrova: 25, works with the FSB (former KGB) as an analyst, father also worked with the FSB and was killed at the beginning of the book, speaks English, shoulder length black hair, petite frame, brown eyes, attractive
Rushad Umarov: 48, works for Chekhov, 6′, athletic build, veteran of Chechnyan wars, Muslim, wife and children and parents were killed in the wars
Pavel Inavanov: Senior Vice President and head of security for Enerprov, big man, was a major in the Soviet army
Some good characters both good guys and bad guys. Pretty good background information on them. I didn’t like Anya. For a daughter trying to find out about the murder of her father, she seemed weak.
No distinguishable voices. Conversations were stilted and not the way I expected some of the characters to speak. I realize that dialogue in books isn’t written in the manner in which normal everyday people speak but there has to be some ‘natural-ness’ to the dialogue. Part of the problem is there are very few contractions and the Data android-like speech is unnatural.
This was a tough read because of the plethora of problems. Right from the beginning there was sense jolting, major distractions with unnerving combinations of past and present tenses within paragraphs and within sentences where the usage was incorrect.This was constant throughout the book and made paragraph and sentence comprehension difficult. Grammar and punctuation problems. Missing words. Misspelled words. Incorrectly capitalized words. Extra spaces between sentences. Unnecessary and incorrectly used tag lines. Unnecessary words in sentences. Unnecessary sentences. One example was telling the reader a phone call ended at the end of a chapter. Not needed since the reader understood the call would end. Scene shifts within chapters without either an extra space between paragraphs or some other indication such as a line or asterisks. Partly because of the tense problems, there was a lot of ‘telling instead of showing.’ Some details which would have made the short scenes a bit more enjoyable were missing.
A bit of profanity. Action scenes, again, informed, instead of showed. There was a lot of passive voice which lessened the intensity. Since the plot was initiated by the murder of a Soviet FSB agent, it was not quite believable that the CIA didn’t have more information about a veteran Soviet agent to pass along to Michael. It’s also not believable that the FSB would be so buddy-buddy with Clarke who works with the CIA so quickly or with the CIA in general or that Clarke would tell the Russians what his job is for the CIA. I realize the threat in the book dealt with both the Russians and the Americans, but I just don’t see spy agencies working so openly with each other without at least a bit of suspicion. I can see two opposing agents working together but not agencies.
I also tired of the over-usage of the word ‘chatter’ when referring to intelligence data. This and other examples showed how the writing needed to be a lot tighter. I looked back at some other low ranked reviews in order to be fair to those and this one. With everything taken together, I can’t give this a higher ranking than: