I had never read any of this author’s works and so I was extremely impressed with the plot, characters, pacing, etc in this book. We have a train thriller here, espionage, spying, etc. This is a fast-paced book that follows the plight of numerous people who are traveling on this train across the barren lands of Russia on its way to the Pacific Coast of the country, over 6,000 miles and the entire trip is done on Moscow time so days and nights are sort of whacky!
The Russian leader is dying from leukemia and the US President sends top doctor Alex Cousins to Russia to try and prolong the leader’s life because with him sits the only chance of peace. Unbeknownst to the US officials, we find out that the Russian leader secretly wants to commit a nuclear strike on China, which may decimate the Chinese but also would result in mass portions of Siberia being obliterated. And so the train trip begins with the Soviet leader at his Dacha and Cousins making his way slowly across the country at the leader’s behest. Accompanying Cousins is a Russian General who will be in charge of starting the strike. But the train also contains others who are there for different reasons.
From the train’s head attendant in the “soft-class” section. This lady has a crush on the general. We also have KGB agents galore, one who is to watch Cousins, another who watches the general, and yet a 3rd who is to use her feminine wiles to try and get information from Cousins as to how long the leader has to live. We also are introduced to a Jewish couple who is trying to make their way to a Jewish enclave in eastern Russia, and a crippled man who plots revenge on a station agent who caused his handicap years ago, and a host of others too long to list. Yes, we want to be sort of like an Agatha Christie novel but it is actually deeper and more complex. Really enjoyable and filled with lots of names and places that kept me busy tracking the route of the train. I had a wonderful time reading this book now have 2 more by the author which I certainly hope will be as good as this one!