Friday, September 21, 2012

Review - Greco's Game by James Houston Turner

Book Summary

Colonel Aleksandr Talanov — the “ice man” — is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can’t, and it’s an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.
Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.
But in the seedy world of prostitution and human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, this hooker made the big mistake of stealing the ice man’s wallet. In it was Talanov’s sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin’s bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. Or was it a mistake?
The answer lies in Greco’s Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its Queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov’s old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?

My Review - 4 stars

The ultimate strategic plan to kill, checkmate.  Now this is a thrilling read, food for the brain.  I loved the first in this series, Department Thirteen and the leading character Talanov.  I was able to get my fill of Talanov addiction again but I was able to see him in a new light. 

Talanov is grieving and trying to move on when he gets information that starts the edge of seat thrill.  What is Talanov's motivation to continue to kill, with logic or will his emotion take over and mistakes happen that can cost him his life and others he cares for.  As an ex assassin he was taught to exploit people, love and emotions were a weakness.  The amazing talent Talanov has is reading people, I enjoyed these parts immensely, expressions do not lie and those that have worked with him know the words they say mean nothing.   These moments were intense, adding dramatic appeal to me.

Organized crime, human trafficking, life decisions and Bourne Identity/Ultimatum scenes make this an exciting read, perfect for men and women readers.

There was a suspense storyline about a rifle, brought with Talanov's credit card but not by Talanov.  Using the chess game strategies we follow until we get towards a climax ending with all sorts of twists and turns, who is the King, the Queen, distractions, check mate or not, this was all a brilliant execution on James Houston Turner's part.  The whole chess game that created this story is known as Greco's Game.

I am wow'd again, a favourite in the Thriller genre for sure. 

Talanov was taken in a new direction that I enjoyed but did miss the edge.  Overall it gave us a full picture of who Talanov is and in the end of course he is still the hard nosed amazing guy you would want on your side.

I can't wait for the next Dragon Head, out in 2013.

James visited Tea Time with Marce during Thrill Week, go here to read.  You can also enter my giveaway of the first in the series, Department Thirteen.  Ending Friday at midnight. 

James, thank you for the opportunity to read and continue Talanov's journey. 



  1. Great review! I love when characters take a new direction but would be sad to be missing some of the edge. Though knowing more about him is a definite bonus.

  2. It sounds like this is not a victim of the sophomore slump, which is always a great thing. I'm glad you were able to enjoy it!

  3. Yay! An author that I hadn't heard of that I'm definitely adding to the TBR list! I'm always looking for a good thriller to read so thanks for sharing :)

  4. I really need to read this series!


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