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Volk's Shadow    by Brent Ghelfi order for
Volk's Shadow
by Brent Ghelfi
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Volk's Game, ex-army colonel Alexei Volk Vokovoy, a covert agent for the Russian military with a prosthetic foot, and his young, white-haired Chechen lover Valya (who very effectively has his back) sought a lost DaVinci - from Moscow to St. Petersburg to New York City. Volk and Valya separated at the end of that explosive thriller, to his great regret.

Now in the sequel, Volk's Shadow, Alexei is tasked by his Kremlin boss, the General, with finding a missing Fabergé egg. The corpse of Captain Dubinin, who had previously taken the assignment, is found tortured and horribly mutilated in a manner that brings back an episode in Volk's past. Volk's elderly babushka friend Masha, whom he helps financially, asks him to look into the disappearance of her friend's twelve-year-old granddaughter Galina. NSA operative Brock Matthews pressures him to track down Charlie, the missing daughter of a US Senator. And Volk's decisive actions in rescuing hostages from terrorists at the beginning of the book earn him the enmity of a very powerful figure in the Putin government, Filip Lachek.

Questions pursue Volk as he blasts his way through his latest assignment. 'Why did the terrorists bother to move the hostages away from the danger?' And why did a female hostage (an American) disappear after her safety was assured? He receives a call from Valya (their first contact in six months) to warn him that his old nemesis Abreg is 'killing soldiers'. He soon learns that those targeted were all involved in a horrific massacre at the Chechen village of Starye Atagi, and that a video exists. There are subtexts of 'Putin and Lachek, oil, terrorism, and criminal syndicates' - and he learns of a Chechen attempt that came close to acquiring enriched uranium.

As Volk seeks answers, Lachek goes after him - and those close to him - with all the power at his command. And Abreg offers to trade, but insists on meeting Volk in person, forcing him to face his fears in the mountains where he lost his leg. Don't start this intelligent thriller unless you have time to spare, as it's impossible to put down. Volk's Shadow is highly recommended.

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