Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2019
This is not so much a polished novel as a beautifully-decorated confection. If you long for the 1940’s Saturday afternoon serials or some James Bond on steroids, here you go. Your wishes have been answered. THE RUSSIAN inaugurates a new series for Ben Coes but it’s not so much a new series as a spinoff. The hero, Rob Tacoma, has been around for years, operating his ‘security’ service with Katie in the Virginia hunt country. Hey, they’re in Middleburg. When you get tired of blowing things up you can tool on down to the Red Fox Inn and have some of their classic peanut soup.
The other supporting cast are there as well—Hector Calibrisi from the CIA, President J.P. Dellenbaugh and even a cameo appearance by Dewey Andreas, so this is not so much a new series as the highlighting of one character in an ensemble cast. The premise: the Russian Mafia is taking over the world of crime and is upset with those who stand in their way, so they knock off a U.S. Senator and the Florida governor who is a top presidential candidate. Our country will not stand for such shenanigans and promptly puts together a team to return their assassination favors. One (a man named Cosgrove) is promptly terminated with extreme prejudice and the other, our hero Rob Tacoma, springs into violent action. Rob is a former Navy Seal, speaks umpteen languages, knows at least fifteen ways to kill you using only his earlobes and has already been issued an unlimited budget and a presidential pardon for anything he might choose to do. So lock and load that safety belt. SPOILER: the ultimate bad guy has a prosthetic arm that enables him to lift large human objects, break their bones, strangle them, and so on, depending upon his mood.
This is fantasy land, a place in which Rob can swim underwater, carrying all of his tools and weapons. Unlike his classic film predecessors, his weapons will sometimes run out of ammunition, but Rob will never run out of fire in the belly and kill-capacity in his fingers and toes. The interesting thing is that this is a Ben Coes novel, so that the fantasy is simultaneously anchored by precise detail: elaborate files on foreign and domestic operatives with all of the appropriate acronyms in place; extended dialogue in Russian (yes, with translations) and the kind of detailed information on armament that would make Q proud.
All in all, a Nantucket sleigh ride, but we’re in New York, Greenwich, CT, Langley, the Miami docks, Jupiter Island (watch out Tiger; Rob’s in town), and Grosvenor Square, London.
Bottom line: unputdownable fun; leave your requirements for realism at the door and keep your head down when the bullets fly.