By Dale Bryan Sahlberg
An ex Russian soldier steals a canister of nerve gas. A Russian mobster wants a strontium based generator. An occult group celebrates fallen angels. A terrorist known only as Remus is causing havoc with the oil industry. An enigmatic Russian, supported by some of the aformentioned fallen angels is vying for the top position in Russia.
…and there are a bunch of other chapters with stuff happening and people talking and doing things.
My biggest problem is I didn’t understand what was going on. There were a bunch of chapters that didn’t seem to connect or had tenuous connections to others. I spent most of the book confused by the randomness of the plot. This goes from Russia to Louisiana to New York to England to Iceland, and many more points on the globe. I don’t mind if a book is formulaic or otherwise predictable (if it’s a good story) and of course I enjoy the good plot twist or three, but don’t leave me hanging for so long without some comprehension about the overall thrust of the story.
Bohdan Alexei Federov: drives a Corvette, mother is Ukrainian, has a sister, doctorate in Economics from Princeton, wife dead,
Mark Carlson: reverend, married
Nikolaiv Kozlovsky: diesel mechanic, former submariner, married, portly
Ivan Sokolka: former submariner, bulky, grew up in orphanages and the streets, tugboat captain, married
Andre Du Bois: magazine photographer
Susan Henderson: 19, model
Arman Kumekov: former soldier, married with four children, runs a timber business
Yevgeny Yurkovich: mob leader, father was a captain and former mobster
…and many, many more. This may be where my aforementioned confusion came into play. Nearly every chapter introduced new characters with lots of information about them, but most had very minor roles. They were good characters and well thought out, but their relevancy to the big picture didn’t warrant the extensive biographies. There was no central character on which to focus, get behind, or care about.
A lot of tag lines other than ‘said’. Sometimes it’s okay, but there are way too many replied, answered, inquired, probed, responded, clarified, intoned, stated, etc., in this book. As I have heard many times, there is nothing wrong with ‘said’.
There was a glaring repetition in two characters from different countries using referencing whales when on their respective boats.
Otherwise, there were too many characters to get a sense of voice. Some were lighthearted while others were serious and lecturing. Some conversations, especially, the lectures, went on way too long and in the end, didn’t reveal but hints of…something.
Titled chapters. The author refers people speaking by description. He uses names, but then descriptions. Different descriptions for the person. (retired missionary, Princeton salutatorian, Christian theologian, etc.) He does this a lot. It’s distracting because at times I’m not sure who’s speaking or if he added in another character.
Lots of details on irrelevant things. A bit of missing punctuation.
Translations of passages into and from Russian and other languages. At first I thought they were okay, but translating the numbers one, two, and three seemed a bit much. It’s okay to explain local or national cuisine or certain phrases but the reader understands that Russians would speak Russian in their own country.
There was a chapter with a threat to the Alaskan pipeline and a subsequent code, but there was no follow up. Did the pipeline go boom? Did anybody solve the code?
I didn’t understand the terrorist’s importance.
I did enjoy the historical references. I understood a bit of what myIrin is and its overt Biblical reference. However, this was a drawn out book and some of the chapters had long build ups and a plethora of facts that were interesting but not necessarily relevant to what was actually important to the story. The author’s vast knowledge (or knowledge gained by extensive research) is impressive, but many times there is just too much thrown at the reader. I kept wanting to get to the point quicker.
The ending wasn’t a climax and I think the plan-whatever it was-was fulfilled. It just ended.
All in all, as I mentioned at the beginning. I just didn’t get it. Too much of an info dump to figure out, remember, and be interested in what the story was about. I thought about giving this a rank of Camouflage, but, even though there weren’t very many ‘mistakes’ other than those mentioned, I think with everything I didn’t understand, I have to drop it down to: