BLOOD OF THE CZARS by Michael Kilian


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Sillier and less inventive than Northern Exposure (1983), Kilian's latest spy-folderol stars Tatiana (""Tatty"") Chase--a gorgeous N.Y. actress and sometime (reluctant) CIA operative. In fact, having gotten involved in some ugly violence a few years back, Tatty has sworn off both the CIA and her off-and-on Agency lover: cool, super-sexy Ram Saylor, who supposedly talks like William F. Buckley (a strained, clumsy parody). But now, in the novel's slow first half, Ram reappears, re-beds Tatty, and convinces her to undertake a new mission: she'll go to the USSR to give concert-readings in Leningrad and Moscow--where she'll attract the amorous attentions of Politburo member Griuchinov, setting him up for an embarrassing scandal. Why? Because Griuchinov is supposedly the most hard-line of the likely successors to ailing Andropov. And why should Tatty cooperate? Because, according to Ram, Griuchinov was responsible for the Vietnam death of Tatty's father; furthermore, Griuchinov's father was responsible for the 1918 murder of the Romanovs--to whom Tatty is a distant cousin! So off goes Tatty to Russia, catching Griuchinov's roving eye (while falling in love with her ex-brother-in-law Jack, a Moscow-based reporter). Then, however, things suddenly get hyperactive: Griuchinov is secretly murdered; Tatty is framed. She must flee from Moscow, of course--in disguise, fighting off rapists, sneaking her way into Poland and Iceland. . . while swearing vengeance on Ram: he has lied to her about Griuchinov's past and politics, using her in some vile fanatic scheme. And, after several more murders and chases back in the US (including a UN assassination, the fake-suicide of Tatty's lesbian friend, etc., etc.), there's a Bermuda showdown between Tatty and cartoon-villain Ram. . . who's revealed to be a bisexual cocaine addict as well as a traitor. The plot's sheer nonsense; Tatty's an unengaging heroine, alternately super-dumb and super-tough; the first half is heavily padded with sightseeing and chatter. But easygoing suspense readers may be sporadically entertained--by the lively backgrounds, the often-ironic dialogue, and the hectic North by Northwest-ish action in the later chapters.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's