James Houston Turner
provided by author
Colonel Aleksandr Talanov — the “ice man” — is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can’t, and it’s an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.
Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.
But in the seedy world of prostitution and human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, this hooker made the big mistake of stealing the ice man’s wallet. In it was Talanov’s sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin’s bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. Or was it a mistake?
The answer lies in Greco’s Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its Queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov’s old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?
About The Author:
A native of Kansas, James turned to writing fiction as a result of his years as a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain. He has been on a KGB watchlist, organized secret midnight meetings with informants, located hidden mountain bunkers, and investigated legends of forgotten tunnels buried beneath the cobblestones and bricks of some of Central Europe’s most venerated cathedrals. Department Thirteen, his debut thriller featuring former KGB informant, Colonel Aleksandr Talanov, was inspired by those experiences and went on to win the USA Book News “Best Thriller of 2011″ award, a gold medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher “IPPY” Book Awards (thriller/suspense), and a gold medal in the 2012 Indie Book Awards (action/adventure).
A former journalist in Los Angeles, James holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Baker University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Houston (Clear Lake). His 2011 “Too Ugly Tour” saw him drive 4500 miles across America promoting his books and speaking to thousands of students about not letting the hard knocks of life defeat you, which in his case included years of rejection, surviving cancer, and once being turned down for a customer service job because he was “too ugly” — a reference to the facial scars he still carries from his successful 1991 battle against cancer. He and his wife, Wendy, a former triathlon winner, live in Adelaide, South Australia.
Wow. What can I say about this book? Well, it’s certainly intense. And thrilling. And long. But, most of all, it’s addictive. I didn’t want to put it down. After reading so many intense romance novels, I didn’t know how well I’d be able to get into Mr. Turner’s books. I am quite pleased to say that I had no trouble at all. His intense, complex characters and intriguing, twisty plot line captured my attention instantly. I was taken on an incredible roller coaster ride for the duration of the story. By the last page, my seat was nearly out from under me, I was that into the story.
Mr. Turner took an often emotional story line; human trafficking; and turned it into a page-turning, white knuckling story of events that will steal your breath. After reading book 1, Department Thirteen and loving it, I knew that this one would be equally as captivating. When a book can take the cruel events surrounding human trafficking, and follow the whys and whats of the events only to make the reader become a part of the story, you know you’ve gotten a hold of a wonderfully written, highly recommend book. That’s exactly what happened with Greco’s Game.
I’m trying to decide whether I liked Aleksandr Talanov’s character or Larisa’s character. Both have emotional turmoil within them, one witnessing his wife being murdered, and one dealing with the after effects of a life of prostitution. They both were incredibly flawed, and fit the story line perfectly. The intensity with which they work together to find the puzzle pieces before it’s too late for one of them, is amazing. Each bit of action, each bit of suspense unraveled before me.
I will stop there for I don’t want to giveaway the ending. I will tell you that the game of Chess when it comes to life or death, is not easily played. Sometimes, the pawn turns out to be the least expected one. If you are looking for a fast-paced easy read, don’t get this book. If you are looking for a fast-paced, emotionally intense, suspenseful action-packed thriller, then this is most definitely a beyond 5 Book worthy recommended read. I will forever be a fan of Mr. Turner, and Aleksandr Talanov will forever be a heroic character in my eyes. I can’t wait for more of Mr. Turner’s books to hit my bookshelves. Amazingly done, Mr. Turner!