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Rasputin’s Shadow by Raymond Khoury

A review of Khoury’s “Rasputin’s Shadow” in this week before Halloween is very appropriate.  The book goes back and forth between early 20th century Russia and modern day New York City.  Khoury invents a relationship for the ghoulish real-life figure, Grigory Rasputin, with a scientist side-kick who has invented a mysterious machine that can affect humans in many ways.  The descriptions of Rasputin and his relationship with the Tsar and Tsarina are historically accurate, but the scientist and his invention are figments of Khoury’s active imagination.

The other story line takes place in modern day New York where FBI agent, Sean Reilly, and his Russian FSB counter-part, Larisa Tchoumitcheva, investigate the death of a Russian embassy operative and the disappearance of a Russian emigre and his wife.  The missing man, a retired science teacher from Queens, secretly built a version of his grandfather’s mystery machine from the journals the older man left.  It has the potential for mind-control of humans and turning them into indiscriminate killers and, essentially, zombies using different microwave frequencies.  Of course, both U.S. and Russian agents want this machine.  One rogue Russian KGB agent kidnaps the hapless inventor and his wife and tests the machine on crowds in New York and Washington, DC before Reilly and Tchoumitcheva eventually catch up with him.

The invention and its effects are a little hard to swallow, but evidently there is “psychotronic” research going on currently which may make this weird machine not so far-fetched.

Rasputin’s Shadow” is a good, absorbing thriller, if a little implausible.

Liz Nichols

 

 

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