Review: “Rasputin’s Shadow” By Raymond Khoury


I was provided a copy of this eGalley by Penguin Books as part of their First To Read program. Although it was provided to me at no cost, I am under no obligation to give a positive review.

First, let me say that since I have not read Khoury’s Templar series, I didn’t know the main character in this book, FBI agent Sean Reilly, was also featured in those books. So it would have helped to have read them first. Plus, I know things now that will be spoilers for the Templar series, but that’s fine. I’ll read them anyway.

This book is a thriller, flipping back and forth from present day New York City to early twentieth century Russia. In the present FBI agent Sean Reilly begins by tracking down the story behind a Russian diplomat who decides to go swan diving from an apartment window, ending up a crumpled mess on the sidewalk below. As Reilly and his partner work on locating Leo Sokolov and his wife Daphne, from whose window the diplomat went flying, the storyline gets more and more complex and more and more bodies begin piling up. The CIA and FBI want to track him down. As Sokolov is a defected Russian scientist, his motherland wants to locate him too. Add in a freelancing Russian assassin who has his own agenda, and things get complicated quickly.

In the past, the story is told of the infamous Grigory Rasputin and his rise to power under the tsar and tsarina. Helped along the way is Sokolov’s grandfather, Misha, who has devised a device which can affect people in different ways, depending on the purpose, aiding Rasputin in his cause. The story follows Rasputin’s rise and fall from favor and Misha’s trip with him along the way.

As the book progresses the stories intertwine. There is also a subplot that is apparently a continuation of happenings in the Templar series, whereby Reilly is on a personal quest that will definitely break some rules.

Add in some Korean mafia members, a possible double-agent, a threat on the life of the President of the United States, overworked coroners, more black SUVs than you can shake a stick at, and this book has more twists and turns than a Slinky.

As noted at the outset of this review, I’ve not read anything by Khoury before. Not for any reason in particular, I just haven’t. But I definitely became a fan of him with this book. I like his writing style, which is well-paced and supported by solid dialogue. There were some things that were predictable, but overall it wasn’t a complete tell of the ending, not by any means.

I will definitely be hunting down Khoury’s other books to give them a read.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

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