Book Preview: Rasputin’s Shadow by Raymond Khoury


Rasputins Shadow coverIt’s no secret that one of my guilty pleasures are historical thrillers. I fell in love with Dan Brown, thanks to his mesmerising and addictive books The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. It was from here that my interest surrounding the Knights Templar grew and grew until i happened to come across a book entitled The Last Templar, which followed FBI agent Sean Reilly and archaeologist Tess Chaykin on a cat and mouse chase across multiple continents in search of ruthless killers that had stolen an ancient decoder. I hadn’t heard of Raymond Khoury before, but thanks to his brilliant action, as well as his gift in intriguing storytelling, i would never forget him again. This October he is back, and thankfully so is Sean Reilly and Tess Chaykin.

It’s evident from The Devil’s Elixir (Book #3 in the series) that Khoury opted for a change in genre. No longer are we crossing the land with some hidden manuscript/treasure in sight along the path of the historical thriller, but instead we are following a more personal approach. Book 4# Rasputin’s Shadow promises to reignite the brilliant absorbing action we are use to with Khoury, as Sean Reilly investigates an old couple’s disappearance, which catapults him into the political secrets of early 20th century Russia.

Here is the blurb:

On a cold, bleak day in 1916,…

…all hell breaks loose in a remote mining pit in the Ural Mountains. Overcome by a strange paranoia, the miners attack one another, savagely and ferociously. Minutes later, two men–a horrified scientist and Grigory Rasputin, trusted confidand of the tsar–hit a detonator, blowing up the mine and burying forever all evidence of the carnage…

In the present day, FBI agent Sean Reilly’s search for Reed Corrigan, the CIA mind-control spook who brainwashed Reilly’s son, has to take a back seat to a new, disturbing case. A Russian embassy official seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of a sixth-story window in Queens. The apartment’s owners, a retired high school teacher from Russian and his Greek wife, have also gone missing.

Joined by Russian FSB agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva, Reilly’s investigation into the old couple’s disappearance will pull him into a desperate and deadly search for a secret that dates back to the days of Rasputin, a secret that, in the wrong hands, could have a devastating impact on the modern world.

Russian history seems to be extremely popular at the moment. You may remember that i’ve recently read and reviewed Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni, which is set partly in Russia, and makes continued references to this mysterious character of Rasputin. However, i’ve always enjoyed Raymond Khoury’s books, and in particular his chemistry between his main characters Reilly and Tess. Although by blurb alone, we don’t really get a picture of how Tess exactly will feature.

If you’ve read any of the previous books, then you may be pleased to know that the author has kindly made the early chapters free to read.

I’ve yet to read The Devil’s Elixir but i plan on moving to this rather quickly, in preparation for this fourth release. If you are interested in the Templar series, the list of books is below.

1. The Last Templar

2. The Templar Salvation

3. The Devil’s Elixir

4. Rasputin’s Shadow (coming Oct 2013)

UPDATE: TO READ MY REVIEW OF RASPUTIN’S SHADOW, CLICK HERE

About Raymond Khoury (taken from his Amazon Page)

Well, since you asked… I was born in Beirut, a Scorpio and the youngest of three. The civil Raymond Khourywar broke out there when I was 14 and my parents, in a noble effort to keep us alive into adulthood, wisely moved us to Rye, NY. I stayed there until I graduated from Rye Country Day School, then, intent on thwarting my parents’ nurturing instincts, I decided to go back to Lebanon to study architecture at the American University of Beirut. Which, in hindsight, wasn’t as nutty a decision as you might think. Those years, marred by repeated flare-ups of fighting and a couple of invasions, were emotionally taxing, harrowing, sometimes dangerous, often maddeningly frustrating, but always intense in the most visceral sense of the word and, weirdly enough, I wouldn’t have missed them for the world. Maybe that’s the Scorpio in me…

So there I was, gingerly studying architecture in the hopes of one day helping rebuild the city (rumours that a local cabal of intensely purist architects was having ugly buildings selectively blown up remain unproven). The civil war erupted again a few weeks after I graduated, and I was evacuated out from the beach down the road from our apartment on a sunny but sad day in February, 1984, by the Marine Corp’s 22nd Amphibious Unit on board a Chinook helicopter, to whom I’ll be eternally grateful (the Marines, not the chopper).

I ended up in London, where I joined a small architecture practice. The architecture scene in Europe was pretty bleak at that time, so I decided to explore other career options. I got an MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and joined an investment bank, selling gold-linked convertibles and other far less exotic financial instruments, surrounded by Gekko wannabes and hating waking up every day. In fairness, I have to credit those ‘wilderness’ years with one wonderful thing: meeting my gorgeous wife, who tolerated my exhausting yearnings for something more fulfilling and eventually gave me two incredible daughters.

I left the glamorous (at the time, anyway) world of investment banking after three years to return to my creative roots. I bounced around for a while, trying different things, and during a business trip to the Bahamas (don’t ask), I met a banker who dabbled in the film business. I’ve always been a film geek and harbored a burning desire to make movies, so at dinner one night, I bounced an idea off him, and the idea struck a chord. I had a new partner, and we agreed to develop my idea into a screenplay — by hiring a professional screenwriter he’d worked with.

Several conference calls later, the outlines coming back from Los Angeles weren’t what I had in mind. I offered to write an outline myself. When I faxed my notes to my partner (yes, this was in the early 90s, long before email), he called me up and said, “Our man in L.A. isn’t going to write this movie for us. You are. You’re a writer.”

So I did. And it got shortlisted for the Fulbright Fellowship in Screenwriting award, which I had to apply for under a friend’s name (I wasn’t eligible, but that’s another long story). My next script, a semi-autobiographical screenplay about my college years during the war, was also nominated for the award a year later. Then the next year, in 1995, I optioned the film rights to Melvyn Bragg’s novel, THE MAID OF BUTTERMERE and wrote the adaptation myself while completing an original screenplay called… THE LAST TEMPLAR. Buttermere found its way to Robert DeNiro, who announced in Variety that he would be producing it and playing the lead. The Last Templar… well, if you’re reading this, you know that after ten years or so, it managed the quantum leap off my laptop’s hard drive and into novel form, but that’s a longer story, one I’ll go through in a separate post…

Since then, and after working as a screenwriter and a producer on shows like the BBC series Spooks, (MI-5 in the US), I’m now solely focused on the novels, the fifth of which is THE DEVIL’S ELIXIR.

And that’s about it… Thanks for taking the time to explore my ramblings, and if you do pick up one of my books, I hope you have a blast reading it. And let me know-connect with me on facebook on my Official Fan Page (and NOT on one of the others that I don’t manage!). Enjoy!

Raymond Khoury’s Website / Facebook Page / Twitter Page / Goodreads Page

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