Sunday, June 24, 2012

Greco's Game, by James Houston Turner

In this fourth book by Turner we find Alex Talanov facing a set of circumstances that will either end his life or reignite his desire to live life and live it fully.  Talanov's wife Andrea is dead, killed by a sniper round that was meant for Alex or was it?

But for Alex life has come to a crushing end.  He is in complete despair and doesn't really care what happens.  He is drinking himself into oblivion at club after club.  Our story starts with him in a hotel room with a hooker named Tash who has drugged him and is now robbing him blind.

Alex wakes up, much sooner than he should, mainly because of his physical condition and professional background.  He goes back to the clubs and finds Tash, confronts her about his wallet, all he wants is his wife's picture.  But in the process two bouncers get in the way and Alex is beaten badly.

But Tash, whose real name is Larissa is overcome with compassion for Alex.  She tracks him down, brings back his wallet and enters his life in a way that only one other person has before and that person was Andrea who is now dead.

Through many mishaps it appears that everyone wants a piece of Alex, from the LAPD to the FBI to ICE and finally the CIA.  So who will win out and get his attention. 

As it turns out Larissa is being used by the Russian Mafia to get close to Talanov, but instead she falls in love with him.  The FBI and LAPD just want Talanov deported and sent out of the country.

But the CIA wants him on their side.  They want the former KGB operative to help them run to ground the Russian Mafia and end their hold on crime in Los Angeles.

Enter Bill Wilcox, Talanov's former CIA handler.  He and Alex will work for the next few days to save the life of Larissa, save the life of a CIA agent, save the life of a U.S. Congresswoman and do their best to bring to the end a Russian Mafia crime ring that has been devastating Los Angeles.  Can they do all this?  That's the story line of the book.

Unlike many other spy / crime / mystery / war / political thrillers that take you all over the world Janes Houston Turner does a fantastic job of building his story completely around the city if Los Angeles and has it all wrapped up in just a few days time.

At first the story seems a bit slow in developing because there is a lot of time given to the new relationship between Alex and Larissa.  But it is all necessary to build on the characters, build on the story line and bring the action to a head.  I say a bit slow, but that is only because most thrillers have lots of action.  The beginning has lots of relationship.

But I was so intrigued by Turner's writing style and the character development that it keep me turning pages.  Just when I went to set the book down so I could do some chores he ends a chapter with a cliff hanger comment from the CIA to Alex about his new love Larissa.  So, instead of setting the book down I had to keep reading.

That's how the whole book goes, just when you think you might take a break someone new and exciting or intriguing pops up and you keep reading.  I finished the book in just two sittings.  That's unusual for me as I usually stop several times and do other things. 

But the writing and the story were so captivating that I just kept turning the pages.

How will it turn out?  Well, maybe good maybe not?  Will everyone survive the final chase scene and gun battle?  Maybe, maybe not.  When all is said and done is the story over?  Maybe, maybe not.  Turner ends the book with a hook that will make you anxious for the sequel that will be coming in 2013.  But trust me, after reading this you will want to mark your calendar so that you don't forget to order the sequel when it comes out.


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