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One of the most exciting debut anti-heroes since Lee Child’s Jack Reacher

Turbo Vlost learned early that life is like a game of cards…. It’s not always about winning. Sometimes it’s just a matter of making your enemies fold first.

Turbo is a man with a past—his childhood was spent in the Soviet Gulag, while half of his adult life was spent in service to the KGB. His painful memories led to the demolition of ...

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Overview

One of the most exciting debut anti-heroes since Lee Child’s Jack Reacher

Turbo Vlost learned early that life is like a game of cards…. It’s not always about winning. Sometimes it’s just a matter of making your enemies fold first.

Turbo is a man with a past—his childhood was spent in the Soviet Gulag, while half of his adult life was spent in service to the KGB. His painful memories led to the demolition of his marriage, the separation from his only son, and his effective exile from Russia.

Turbo now lives in New York City, where he runs a one-man business finding things for people. However, his past comes crashing into the present when he finds out that his new client is married to his ex-wife; his surrogate father, the man who saved him from the Gulag and recruited him into the KGB, has been shot; and he finds himself once again on the wrong side of the surrogate father’s natural son, the head of the Russian mob in Brooklyn.

As Turbo tries to navigate his way through a labyrinthine maze of deceit, he discovers all of these people have secrets that they are willing to go to any lengths to protect.

Turbo didn’t survive the camps and the Cold War without becoming one wily operator.  He’s ready to show them all why he’s always the one who’s…LAST TO FOLD.

"One of the most original protagonists I’ve ever come across — a cross between Arkady Renko and Philip Marlowe: a Russian-born ex-KGB agent living in New York, a private eye with a strong sense of irony and a Russian sense of fatalism.  David Duffy knows his Russia inside and out, but most of all, he knows how to tell a story with flair and elegance.  This is really, really good."

                                —Joseph Finder, New York Times best-selling author of Vanished and Buried Secrets

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Duffy's promising debut introduces Turbo Vlost, a gulag survivor who later worked as an undercover man for the KGB until the Soviet Union's breakup. Now living in New York City, Vlost works at finding things for people. A wealthy businessman, Rory Mulholland, hires Vlost off the books to locate his 19-year-old adopted daughter, Eva, who appears to have been kidnapped. In his effort to rescue Eva, Vlost gets hold of a laptop that contains vital business records of the local Russian mob. When he doesn't immediately return the computer, Vlost discovers himself back on familiar ground, negotiating the hard and violent realities of his Russian past. The dialogue is crisp and rings true, and the main character is easy to like and root for. The plot, however, needs a clarity check from time to time, and Duffy needs to learn when to stop writing atmosphere and social commentary and simply let his story move forward. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Nominated for the 2012 Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Author

"One of the most original protagonists I’ve ever come across — a cross between Arkady Renko and Philip Marlowe: a Russian-born ex-KGB agent living in New York, a private eye with a strong sense of irony and a Russian sense of fatalism.  David Duffy knows his Russia inside and out, but most of all, he knows how to tell a story with flair and elegance.  This is really, really good."

—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Vanished and Buried Secrets

"The dialogue is crisp and rings true, and the main character is easy to like and root for."

Publishers Weekly

“A new addition to the line of suspense stars at St. Martin’s, introducing an irresistible character and a very rich milieu—the New York City subculture of Russian émigrés, underworld characters and ruthless new-rich swashbucklers….I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Sullivan County Democrat

“From guns, drugs and espionage we get the full gambit in the fast and furious look within the Russian mob.”

Suspense Magazine

Kirkus Reviews
The ups and downs of an ex–Russian spy in a first novel that also has its ups and downs.

For 40 hard years, boy to man, Turbo Vlost served Soviet intelligence in one clandestine capacity or another until he was offered—and gratefully accepted—early retirement. That was in 1993. Now, in his mid-50s, the Russian in him is confined to such carry-overs as a leaning toward vodka (his booze of choice). This ex–KGB colonel now resides in the City That Never Sleeps, energetic, entrepreneurial, a quintessential New Yorker. He calls his thriving one-man company Vlost and Found and, awful pun aside, it's descriptive enough. "I get paid to find things,'" he tells a prospective client. "Sometimes people. Sometimes valuables. Sometimes information." In the case of financier Rory Mulholland, it's Eva, a l9-year-old stepdaughter who's gone missing. Moments after learning that, however, Turbo is hauled back to a time and place he'd begun to believe was safely on the other side of the looking glass. Unexpectedly, he finds himself confronting his own unsettling history. And a scary, unwelcome history it is. Eva, it turns out, is the daughter of Turbo's ex-wife, a woman as notoriously venomous as she is obsessively vindictive. The fact that her hatred of Turbo is unjustified matters little to Polina, who long ago might have settled Turbo's hash if only she'd known where he was. But now, suddenly, a lot of Turbo-haters know where he is—a motley collection of former colleagues: world-class grudge-holders skilled at rendering maximum personal discomfort as the need arises, all intent on making the point that nobody, ever, takes early retirement from the KGB.

Despite occasional rewards, this is mostly cookie-cutter spy lit, but if Duffy ever gets around to making a real person out of his Americanized Russian, he could have something special.

Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews
The ups and downs of an ex–Russian spy in a first novel that also has its ups and downs.

For 40 hard years, boy to man, Turbo Vlost served Soviet intelligence in one clandestine capacity or another until he was offered—and gratefully accepted—early retirement. That was in 1993. Now, in his mid-50s, the Russian in him is confined to such carry-overs as a leaning toward vodka (his booze of choice). This ex–KGB colonel now resides in the City That Never Sleeps, energetic, entrepreneurial, a quintessential New Yorker. He calls his thriving one-man company Vlost and Found and, awful pun aside, it's descriptive enough. "I get paid to find things,'" he tells a prospective client. "Sometimes people. Sometimes valuables. Sometimes information." In the case of financier Rory Mulholland, it's Eva, a l9-year-old stepdaughter who's gone missing. Moments after learning that, however, Turbo is hauled back to a time and place he'd begun to believe was safely on the other side of the looking glass. Unexpectedly, he finds himself confronting his own unsettling history. And a scary, unwelcome history it is. Eva, it turns out, is the daughter of Turbo's ex-wife, a woman as notoriously venomous as she is obsessively vindictive. The fact that her hatred of Turbo is unjustified matters little to Polina, who long ago might have settled Turbo's hash if only she'd known where he was. But now, suddenly, a lot of Turbo-haters know where he is—a motley collection of former colleagues: world-class grudge-holders skilled at rendering maximum personal discomfort as the need arises, all intent on making the point that nobody, ever, takes early retirement from the KGB.

Despite occasional rewards, this is mostly cookie-cutter spy lit, but if Duffy ever gets around to making a real person out of his Americanized Russian, he could have something special.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312621902
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Series: Turbo Vlost Thrillers Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

David Duffy

David Duffy spent 25 years advising U.S. and multinational corporations on how to position themselves and their brands in the financial, consumer and labor marketplaces. This experience turned out to be good practice for writing fiction. Along the way, he helped bring the "Antiques Roadshow" to PBS and income tax to Poland. He and his wife live in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

 

The news broke first on Ibansk.com, as it often does these days, the hyperbolic blog having filled the void left by the Kremlin-controlled media for informative, if overheated, news of the New Russia. They say even Putin reads it—secretly, of course. Citizen Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov, the anonymous impresario behind Ibansk, was digging in the Cheka’s graveyard again, a favorite spot of his and a dangerous place to be found with a shovel. No one’s caught on to Ivanov yet, but plenty of people would happily see him buried. I know because I know a lot of them. As I read his latest post, I had the feeling the list just got longer.

OLIGARCH FOUND?

Has a final chapter been written in one of Ibansk’s more sordid tales—that’s saying something, no?—the greed-driven life and none-too-early death of one of New Russia’s most notorious oligarchs? Or is this the first entry in a new book of mystery and deceit?

Anatoly Kosokov. Even longtime denizens of Ibansk will be scratching their heads, pulling at the cords of memory. Kosokov? Who the hell, pray tell, is Kosokov? Abramovich, Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky—sure, all well-known names, although two live in London, one in Tel Aviv, and one in solitary confinement in Siberia. But Kosokov?

Ivanov asks, how soon we forget? Patience. He will explain all.

Kosokov wasn’t as flamboyant as his fellow thieves. He didn’t buy yachts, estates in England or France, or football clubs. Still, he was just as ruthless and made himself almost as rich—until the end.

An accountant by training, Kosokov worked in the vast aparat of the Soviet Finance Ministry. His sister married one of Yeltsin’s chief aides. Sounding more familiar? In the early years of transition, he acquired a series of banks and built them into Rosnobank, Russia’s third largest. He was worth billions. Then came the financial crisis of 1998, the collapse of the GKOs (an Ibanskian version of a financial guarantee if there ever was one), and the devaluation of the ruble. Fortunes evaporated overnight, including Kosokov’s. Or did it?

I remembered Kosokov. A short, coarse, ambitious man, too sure of himself by half. He made a point of telling you how well he knew everyone from Yeltsin on down. Exactly the kind of guy to make a killing in Russia’s train-wreck transition to capitalism. He wasn’t one of us—us being the Cheka, Lenin’s original and still my preferred name for the ChK/GPU/OGPU/KVD/NKVD/MVD/MGB/KGB/SVR/FKB/FSB. Most know it as the KGB, or today’s acronym, FSB. The secret police by any label you choose.

Kosokov was always around, acting as if he belonged. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but it seemed odd, looking back. The Cheka has always taken care of itself first, and we were under attack from all sides back then, following the failed Gorbachev coup and the collapse of the Party. Kosokov was one who argued loud and long for putting us out of business. Our paths might have become intertwined later on, but I was long gone by then, and he, of course, had disappeared. Or had he?

I went back to Ibansk.com.

Rosnobank didn’t fail until a year later, October 1999. Rumors abounded—embezzlement, money laundering, financing ties to Chechen terrorists. The answers went up in smoke—literally, along with the depositors’ funds—in a spectacular fire that gutted the headquarters tower in central Moscow. Arson, certainly, but as with so many such investigations in Ibansk, the perpetrators were never found, even though this was without doubt a sophisticated crime involving much preparation and many hands. Nine dead, the life savings of millions—gone. Depositors queued for weeks to find they had nothing left. But this is Ibansk—who gives a damn about them?

The authorities went looking for Kosokov, although just what they planned to do if they found him is still a question. The case foundered, and in due course fell onto the slag heap of forgotten offenses.

Until now. A charred corpse has been unearthed—a decade old!—in an old Soviet shelter beneath the burned-out barn at Kosokov’s dacha in the Valdai Hills. And Ivanov is told—sssshhhhh!—in strictest confidence, by sources too well placed not to know, that DNA tests will prove it to be the body of Anatoly Kosokov.

Ivanov will neither waste bandwidth nor insult intelligence by listing the myriad questions this discovery raises. He will, however, go looking for answers. Keep your browsers open to Ibansk. Ivanov is on the case!

Even as an ex-Chekist, I don’t try to defend the Soviet system. I lived it on all sides, experienced everything it could inflict, for forty years. I still have the scars. I moved to New York to get away from my past and to keep some distance from the cauldron of Wild West capitalism, pseudo-democracy, and Cheka control we now refer to as the New Russia. Ivanov’s more direct. He calls it Ibansk, which translates roughly as Fucktown. Making a clean break is never easy, though, especially in this global age, even forty-seven hundred miles and an ocean away.

We have a saying in Russia. If a pig comes to your table, he will put his feet on it. Trouble is, no one tells you how to spot the pig.

 

Copyright © 2011 by David Duffy

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  • Posted February 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Vlost makes for a compelling crime caper as his past and present collide when Russia and the Hudson converge

    Turbo Vlost grew up rather quickly in the Gulag. He escaped thanks to a surrogate father who brought him into the KGB as a field agent until the Soviet Union collapsed. However his past never left him as his horror memories ended his family life as his wife divorced him and their son remains estranged from him.

    Turbo resides in New York City where he earns a modest living locating people and things for clients. His current customer affluent businessman, Rory Mulholland wants Vlost to find his missing adopted teenage daughter Eva. Although he thinks it odd that his client pays him in cash so there is no record in what Rory insists is a kidnapping, Vlost needs the money even if his former wife is married to Mulholland. However, the inquiry turns stranger and potentially deadly when Vlost obtains the business records of the Brooklyn Russian mob run by the biological son of his recently shot Soviet savior.

    Vlost makes for a compelling crime caper as his past and present collide when Russia and the Hudson converge. The story line is at its best when the hero faces his adversaries although at times unnecessary explicatory diatribes about social conditions occur. Still Vlost is an intriguing refreshing lead character whose presence means the Russians are not coming as they are already here.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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