Friday, October 4, 2013

Rasputin's Shadow

The Dew did not review this book, but thought that it would be of reader interest so I'm sharing!  Rasputin has always been a fascinating character in history, with his secretive ways and odd control over the Tsar and his family.  This novel takes his real life stories and combines them with a secret that comes back in the present.  

It's 400 plus pages, making it a hearty read - as soon as I have the time to settle down with it, you can be guaranteed I'm going to!

Q & A at the bottom of the post!


By Raymond Khoury

What gave a madman the power to control the Tsar? New York Times bestselling author Raymond Khoury has made a name for himself as the master of cinematic, contemporary suspense novels steeped in long-lost historical mysteries. After his hugely successful breakout novel, The Last Templar, Khoury has gone on to explore the rainforests of South America, the abyss of Antarctica, and now, in his latest novel, RASPUTIN’S SHADOW (Dutton; October 8, 2013), Khoury delves into one of Russia’s biggest mysteries: Rasputin’s meteoric and bizarre rise to power.

Booklist has praised Khoury’s novels as “fast-paced thrill-ride[s]” and Publishers Weekly commends their “unrelenting action.” Without fail, Khoury delivers the same great storytelling in RASPUTIN’S SHADOW. His prose is filled with silver-screen worthy action and intrigue as well as a surprising reimagining of Russia’s secretive past.

Rasputin was a monk blessed by God, a malicious killer, a mastermind, a renegade, a fraud. Even the most lauded historians haven’t decided which of these descriptors best fit the illusive figure from Russia’s past. And no one can understand his incredible rise from a starving, degenerate peasant to the Tsar’s most trusted advisor. No one, that is, except Leo Sokolov. And so begins RASPUTIN’S SHADOW. Khoury’s novel is filled with modern-day action as FBI Agent Sean Reilly and his unexpected partner Russian FSB Agent Larisa Sokolova search to uncover a mysterious device that has led to the suicide of a Russian embassy attaché and the disappearance of a Russian physics teacher, Leo Sokolov. Their adventure leads them into an unexpected rendezvous with the lost journals of Rasputin’s confidant, and to the frightening realization that the device wreaking havoc on modern-day Manhattan may have been used for even greater destruction a century earlier in Russia.

RASPUTIN’S SHADOW delivers in the way a thriller should. It melds historical disaster with modern retribution. The novel is heart-racing and smart, full of twists and turns and action scenes that seem as real as the pages that you’re reading.

RAYMOND KHOURY is a New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including The Last Templar, The Templar Salvation and The Sanctuary. Born in Beirut, Khoury and his family fled to Rye, New York when he was 14 to escape Lebanon’s civil war. Khoury worked as an architect and investment banker before becoming a successful screenwriter and producer for networks such as BBC. Today, he focuses on his writing career. Rasputin’s Shadow is his sixth book.

by Raymond Khoury

Dutton; October 8, 2013
384 pages; $27.95 U.S./$29.95 CAN.

 Q & A!
1.      The real-life Grigori Rasputin was a ladies’ man, mystic, and advisor to the Romanovs, who some say manipulated his way from a mere peasant to a trusted confidant in a place of power in the Russian imperial family. Is there anyone in real-life present day who reminds you of Rasputin?

Hah! Thankfully, no one that uber-powerful (or deviant). And though we really don’t know what goes on behind closed doors in the uppermost corridors of power, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the possibility of Rasputin-like figures in places like North Korea or Russia. Closer to home, there have certainly been many vastly influential men behind the leaders of our times, people like Karl Rove for President Bush, or Alastair Campbell for Tony Blair, but they’re far from what we’re talking about. That said, history is riddled with curious quirks: Nancy Reagan placed a lot of faith in her astrologer after the Hinckley assassination attempt, and Isabel Peron held séances at the grave of Evita in an effort to absorb some of her strength. Stranger than fiction?

2.      What authors have had an impact on your writing style and your decision to become a writer?

I was lucky enough to take courses in high school where we studied Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, even Raymond Chandler, but at that time, I never imagined I’d become a writer. I can think of several books that triggered something inside me when I first read them: William Goldman’s “Marathon Man,” John Grisham’s “The Firm,” James Ellroy’s “American Tabloid,” even James Patterson’s (yes) “Along Came a Spider” which I thought was a great book when it first came out. The decision to become a writer was actually a decision to make movies (as a director), and the route I chose to get there was by becoming a screenwriter. The books came as a happy accident along the way…

3.      If RASPUTIN’S SHADOW were to be turned into a movie, who would you cast as Sean Reilly and as Leo Sokolov?

Hmmm. I’m always asked that, and it’s really tough. I don’t picture anyone while writing the books; it’s weird, I know, but they’re these ‘real’ people that I have in my head, not actors playing them. My top picks, if pressed? How about Bradley Cooper as Reilly? And Alan Arkin as Leo?

4.      How did growing up in Beirut during a time of civil war impact your writing?

A huge impact. First of all, visceral. Being around gun battles (not actively, I must add), car bombs, aerial and canon shelling, seeing people gunned down, watching aircraft dropping massive bombs or ground-to-ground missiles streaking across the night from the surrounding mountains… these things never leave you, and it probably comes across the heightened urgency and visceral intensity on my pages. I can’t watch a well-made movie about a war situation, like anything from Oliver Stone who was probably the first to craft a very ‘real’ movie like that with “Salvador”, without it generating a deep reaction inside me. I guess watching the war firsthand, and the troubles across the region as a whole, gave me an understanding of the dynamics of politics, religion, power and greed that I’m sure permeates my stories.

5.      Amongst other careers, you worked for a time as an investment banker. Being a very creative person, how did you give yourself a creative outlet, outside of the office?

I only lasted 3 years there! It was so not for me. But it was a time when I remember watching tons of movies, reading a lot of books, and I guess the mindless atmosphere there, solely focused on generating fake money on screens, allowed my mind to roam and eventually led to all the ideas I’m putting down on paper now.