Today I am reviewing Coercion by Tim Tigner for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in return for my honest review.
About the book (from the publisher): The phone rings and an offer is made, leaving you only seconds to decide. Betray your country, or watch your family drop dead before your eyes.
After the Iron Curtain’s collapse, Russia appears to be finished as a superpower. But KGB General Vasily Karpov is secretly working to restore Russia’s status by forcing Americans into traitorous acts of espionage and sabotage with the aid of a new secret weapon. Meanwhile, his biggest target is within Russia, where Karpov is plotting to capture the Kremlin for himself.
Former US soldier and spy Alex Ferris becomes the first to fathom Karpov’s grand plans. Racing from San Francisco to Siberia, Alex must elude ambushes, assassins, and death from exposure as he wages a one-man war against a growing global threat and the resurgence of the Soviets.
My review: The secret weapon here is an injectable substance that can stay dormant until activated, whereupon it causes the injectee’s death. Using that fact as bait, Karpov is able to manipulate his targets and make them betray all sorts of secrets; secrets that they would never reveal otherwise. And I have to add that, despite what the publisher’s blurb says, Karpov used it on Russians, as well.
It seems beyond the realm of believability, but we all know that in this day and age nothing is truly impossible and that there are people out there developing biological weapons as I write this.
The premise is a very compelling one and Tigner clearly knows a whole lot about Russia and the end of the cold war – Gorbachev is in power during these events. Tigner lived there and his vast knowledge about Russia during this time period lends a historical accuracy to the pages of this thriller.
There are some plot points that strained my credulity. I’ll not reveal them here because I don’t like to give away too many details. The hero is one of those superheroes – he reminds me of Ludlum’s Jason Bourne or the onscreen character Tom Cruise plays in the Mission Impossible series – that can seemingly do it all. On the printed page, that doesn’t always hold up to any sort of real scrutiny, but one just has to go with it.
It’s a complicated plot, with many characters, and Tigner manages to juggle all of it and keep the story moving forward. I also like the fact that he doesn’t resort to the kind of writing that makes all Russians bad guys. Tigner clearly has a great deal of respect for the people of Russia.
It’s an interesting and, often, riveting read.
About the author: Tim began his career in Soviet Counterintelligence with the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Green Berets. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tim switched from espionage to arbitrage. Armed with a Wharton MA rather than a Colt M16, he moved to Moscow in the midst of Perestroika. There he led prominent multinational medical companies, worked with cosmonauts on the Mir Space Station (from Earth, alas), chaired the Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, and helped write Russia’s first law on healthcare.
Moving to Brussels during the formation of the EU, Tim ran Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for a Johnson & Johnson company and traveled like a character in a Robert Ludlum book. He eventually landed in Silicon Valley, where like minds with wild ideas come to congregate around the creation of (nightmares and) dreams. Now he launches new medical technologies as a startup CEO, and devises devious devices for fictional characters who aim to change the world.
Tim grew up in the Midwest and Europe, earning a BA from Hanover College and then a MBA in Finance and a MA in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He now lives with wife Elena and their two daughters in Northern California.
One of you will be the winner of a copy of Coercion. Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll pick a winner on Sunday evening.