Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book "Greco's Game" by James Houston Turner

About the Book: The story of former KGB colonel Aleksandr Talanov continues in the hotly-anticipated follow-up to the USA Book News "Best Thriller of 2011" -- Department Thirteen. 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. A former journalist in Los Angeles, he holds a Bachelor's Degree from Baker University and a Master's Degree from the University of Houston - Clear Lake. He and his wife, Wendy, a former triathlon winner, live in Adelaide, South Australia. You may visit him at

My Review: This is a very intense thriller, like the good ones from the old days, when John le CarrĂ© was the master writer of espionage. The story is superb and the characters very well develop. The plot is simple: an ex-KGB agent (Talanov) loses his wife and he blames himself for her death. He thinks he was the target when his wife was hit and died at his arms. After struggling for months and moving from Australia to Los Angeles, he gets involved with a Ukrainian prostitute named Larissa, that was caught on a human trafic scam by Russian mob. She drugs him and steal his wallet with his most precious possession: his wedding photo. When tracking Larissa down, Talanov gets involved in a world ruled by Russian mafia, composed by some old colleagues from KGB. His loyalty to his friends and mainly to Larissa is tested and the plot develops like a chess game. Brilliantly written, this novel is a page turner that you read at the edge of your seat. You get so involved that you easily start cheering for your hero. And the end is superb. Really a masterpiece like I have not read in a long time.

This book was written by Mr. James Houston Turner and will be released on September 2012. I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader that loves thriller, espionage and a very well written novel that will keep you entertained for some hours. It took me around 11 hours to read this book.

The author was kind enough to provide me a book for reviewing in electronic format. Thank you James for the opportunity you gave me to review this wonderful book!

If you read this review , feel free to leave a comment!


  1. What an honor to receive such an outstanding review, Roberto. I actually lost count of the number of edits this book went through before sending to my publisher -- not to mention the ones that occurred afterward! -- and the number of times I struggled over a single sentence to try and get it "just right." Your remarks made it all worthwhile. Thank you so very much.

    1. James, you deserved every word of my review. It was really one of the best books I have read in a long time! I wish you all the best!

  2. This book sounds interesting. Thanks for your thoughts and the review. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! :O)