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This prodigious series launch introduces Mason Hackett as a senior partner at Ruttfield & Leason, a London investment firm. Hackett jets about Europe cobbling mega-bucks transactions. At a Frankfurt financial firm, he learns from muted TV news captions accompanied by a photo that journalist Henry Delgado has been kidnapped in Ukraine. Hackett recognizes the man as his Iraq combat comrade, but “Kevin Gomez died over 15 years ago on a blood-soaked gurney.” In Iraq, Gomez had communicated to Lieutenant Hackett, “Landslide, the call for immediate help.” Then RPGs turned bodies into blood.

Unnerved by the TV image, Hackett blunders through the investment presentation. Leaving the meeting, an email ping with the subject line “Past Debts” stuns him. The sender states that “something has gone wrong and I need your help. Remember that promise we made in the desert? I’m calling it in --- Landslide.” Only two initials close the message: KG. A postscript instructs to “Start with Doug.”

"John le Carré at his best would envy this tale of international intrigue, CIA operatives and paramilitary espionage."

Doug Mitchell, whom Hackett knew as an “observer” commanding officer from Camp Ramadi in Iraq, is now a CIA operative. He tells Hackett (with intimidating emphasis) to forget about the journalist in Ukraine. An emotionally vexed Hackett must infiltrate Ukraine’s Russian-annexed area to ransom Gomez. Mitchell refuses to acknowledge that Gomez is there or that the CIA is involved. Hackett takes leave from his gig at Ruttfield --- and a few hundred thousand euros.

Bribing dubious contacts, the stack of euros dwindles as Hackett sans passport zigzags through Eastern Europe into Romania abutting Ukraine. Rifle-toting guards at the border were not expected, and plans go awry. Surprisingly, the Slavic word ukraine means border or frontier. As munitions explode and bodies fall, Hackett is thrown back into his military mindset. But he’s now at the Ukraine-Russia border. All but a few Ukrainian loyalists want him dead. Is there any hope to save Gomez?

John le Carré at his best would envy this tale of international intrigue, CIA operatives and paramilitary espionage. I can’t wait for the film adaptation, with shades of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Adam Sikes coauthored OPEN SKIES with Niloofar Rahmani, the person referenced in the nonfiction book’s subtitle: My Life as Afghanistan’s First Female Pilot. Prior to becoming an author, Sikes was a CIA paramilitary officer. Before that, he served a 10-year stint in the Marine Corps. Semper fi!

Reviewer’s note: Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, reviving Cold War-style behavior that most of the world had thought disappeared in 1989. Sikes started writing LANDSLIDE four years later, disturbed by the separatist conflict going on in eastern Ukraine that only occasionally made headlines (think Malaysia Airlines Flight 17). But fact follows fiction, as the final draft of the book went to the typesetter in January 2022 and Russia invaded Ukraine one month later. Tragically, Sikes’ fictional story tracks too easily the war that still rages.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on September 23, 2022

by Adam Sikes

  • Publication Date: September 20, 2022
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1608095045
  • ISBN-13: 9781608095049