An American businessman in Belarus finds himself under KGB scrutiny in this international thriller.
While taking a walk during a party at a co-worker’s Minsk dacha, or country house, Evan Morris, an employee of a U.S. software firm, runs into a mysterious man and his menacing bodyguard. Afterwards, the KGB quickly takes Morris into custody. Its agents question and release him, instructing him not to leave town or tell anyone about the people he saw. Morris does some online research that reveals that one of the men he encountered was Saddam Hussein’s money man, currently wanted by authorities worldwide. In order to protect himself, he defies the KGB and decides to take a trip to Lithuania to hire a lawyer. Morris doesn’t speak Russian, however, so he asks his comely language tutor, Lena Antonova, to make travel arrangements. As a result, Antonova becomes a person of interest on the KGB’s watch list. Meanwhile, Morris’ lawyer makes a trip to Washington, D.C., to sniff out reward money for his client, and Russell Piper, the CIA’s man in Minsk, gets involved to keep the Belarusians from doing something rash. The novel starts with a burst of activity followed by many well-written but repetitive sequences that provide character development but few compelling plot points. For example, several scenes show Piper doing intense gym workouts as a way to quell his urge to cheat on his wife, while one or two such scenes would have sufficed. That said, the author does seems to know the Belarus region extremely well, and he does an excellent job of bringing local details to life throughout the novel.
A competent outing that struggles with pacing problems.