Day: January 27, 2015
In 1947, at the age of 15, Jezer Kornfield, a non-observant Jew, makes his way to Moscow, seeking to join the Red Army. When two soldiers, as a joke, give him directions to KGB headquarters at Lubyanka instead of the army recruiting station, he meets Colonel Michel Petrichova, a Spetsnaz officer, who sees potential in the undersized youngster.
Taking the young Jez under his wings, Petrichova sends him for special training where he meets Anna Puchinsky, another trainee, and Jez finds, in addition to his love for army life, the love of his life. After training, though, Jez and Anna are sent their separate ways, him to service in the Soviet Union’s wars abroad, and her into limbo as far as Jez knows.
In the field, Jez’s career takes off like a comet, and he’s soon a lieutenant assigned to KGB headquarters. From this point, his life takes a series of strange and deadly turns. First, his sisters are arrested when they take part in a demonstration, and Jez violates his oath as a soldier and helps them flee the country. This brings him to the attention of Otto Mitrokhin, a corrupt KGB officer with a deep hatred of Jews. Mitrokhin at first uses Jez’s skills to further his own corrupt plans, and then sets himself the mission of bringing Jez down.
Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone is a riveting tale of life in Soviet Russia as those who, though they see the eventual demise of Communism, still love their country, are pitted against those who are only in it for gain. He doesn’t know who to trust as he finds himself hunted by the very army he loves, and torn between love for his family and love for Anna, who is also playing a deadly game.
Stone weaves a compelling tale of love, honor, and betrayal as he takes us into the underbelly of a country in turmoil. Full of action and drama, this is a book that, once you start, you will not be able to put down until the final climactic confrontation.
Five stars, only because I can’t give it six.