THE KREMLIN PHOENIX by Stephen Renneberg



In Renneberg’s (The Mothership, 2013) new thriller, a corporate financier seeks the truth about his long-lost father and finds himself caught up in an international time-traveling conspiracy.

Craig Balard works in mergers and acquisitions at a well-to-do New York City firm. After a secretive and wealthy client, MLI, suddenly cuts off its business, all the company’s partners are speedily, professionally executed. Before Craig realizes what’s happening, a mysterious caller offers him information about his father, whom he believed died a Gulf War hero, in exchange for the master list of MLI’s bank accounts. Craig escapes his imminent death or capture by several different violent conspiratorial bodies—including the FBI and a dangerous military group exacting a coup d’état in Moscow—with the help of Marlena, a hologram projected into the present from a dystopian 23rd century, and Valentina, a Russian criminal investigator. Glimpses into Marlena’s devastated reality, where mankind barely survives aboard a space station, reveal that Craig’s present-day actions could determine the very future of humanity. Renneberg delivers a typically exciting thriller, with plenty of sharp turns, heavy weapons and touches of science fiction. The time-traveling, continent-hopping narration is remarkably smooth, although the storytelling is sometimes complicated by the author’s wordy fascination with military gear and intelligence, but techno-thriller readers who geek out over helicopter models and Soviet special ops will likely be pleased. The plot is also uncomfortably driven by Cold War–hangover politics that sometimes smack of anti-Russian and anti-Chinese xenophobia; such unsubtle tropes are familiar in spy stories but muddle an otherwise balanced take on geopolitical corruption and conflict. Nevertheless, Renneberg’s complex, accessible tale is fun to follow.

An action-packed thriller with careful doses of sci-fi and family drama.

ISBN: 978-0-9874347-6-0
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


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