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The Russian

Review

The Russian

The publication of THE RUSSIAN heralds the beginning of a new series by Ben Coes. Those who are familiar with Coes through his work on the Dewey Andreas novels have a good idea what to expect from him, and he meets and exceeds those expectations in this real-world thriller that is jammed to the brim with everything that suspense readers love and, with Coes, always get --- well-defined and memorable characters; multiple plot twists; and enough explosions, gunfights and hand-to-hand combat to fill three books. Or more.

THE RUSSIAN begins with the near-simultaneous assassinations of a Florida governor and a United States senator. Though these politicians were on opposite sides of the aisle, they had a common cause: combatting the aggregation of families known collectively as the Russian mafia. As is noted late in the book, the collapse of the Soviet Union near the end of the 20th century resulted in the takeover of the criminal underworld in the United States by the Russian mob at the dawn of the 21st. To say that the mob will not go down without a fight is not accurate; it isn’t planning to go down at all.

"THE RUSSIAN is a breath of fresh air. Make that a gust. It is refreshingly free of the scales that seem to cover the eyes of more and more genre fiction these days, and is written without a whiff of the virtue-signaling that stops many novels dead in their tracks."

The President of the United States, who is a scrapper himself, isn’t about to let the assassinations of two elected officials go unanswered. He puts together an off-the-books team to deal with the matter, which includes hitting the Russian mafia at both their home base and our own. One of its members, former Navy SEAL Rob Tacoma, has his own personal score to settle with the Russian mafia. What is quickly revealed is that the assassinations are the work of one of the Russian crime families who are interested in starting up a war among the other major players from which they hope to emerge as the sole major player. Tacoma is dead set against that happening. As is revealed in these early pages, he co-owns a major security consulting group and is more than capable of dealing with whatever is thrown at him by the powerful crime syndicate.

Much of THE RUSSIAN is a cat-and-mouse hunt between Tacoma and the very dangerous players he is up against, with both sides trading the roles of Tom and Jerry. There is quite a bit of high-tech investigation running through the story, but at its rapidly beating heart is a series of up-close-and-personal battles of the deadliest sort. While much is resolved by the book’s conclusion, there are more than enough plot threads left over to keep old and new fans of Coes’ work waiting impatiently for the next installment. As for those who were hoping for another Dewey Andreas novel, you will not be disappointed on any level.

THE RUSSIAN is a breath of fresh air. Make that a gust. It is refreshingly free of the scales that seem to cover the eyes of more and more genre fiction these days, and is written without a whiff of the virtue-signaling that stops many novels dead in their tracks. These two attributes would make this book --- and all of Coes’ other work --- worth your time and money all by themselves, but its other superlative qualities noted earlier will keep you coming back and reading throughout the night in order to finish in one sitting what you started.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 2, 2019

The Russian
by Ben Coes