Tsar (Alex Hawke Series #5) by Ted Bell | Audiobook (CD) | Barnes & Noble
Tsar (Alex Hawke Series #5)
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Tsar (Alex Hawke Series #5)

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by Ted Bell, John Shea
     
 

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Now in paperback, New York Times bestselling author Ted Bell’s latest action-packed thriller features the return of counter spy Alex Hawke as he faces a global nightmare of epic proportions.

Somewhere in Russia, there dwells a man so powerful no one even knows his name. His existence is only speculated upon, only whispered about in

Overview


Now in paperback, New York Times bestselling author Ted Bell’s latest action-packed thriller features the return of counter spy Alex Hawke as he faces a global nightmare of epic proportions.

Somewhere in Russia, there dwells a man so powerful no one even knows his name. His existence is only speculated upon, only whispered about in American corridors and CIA strategy meetings. Though he is practically invisible, he is pulling strings—and pulling them hard. For suddenly, Russia is a far, far more ominous threat than even the most hardened cold warriors ever thought possible.

The Russians have their finger on the switch to the European economy and an eye on the American jugular. And, most importantly, they want to be made whole again. Should America interfere with Russia’s plans, well then, America will pay in blood. As this political crisis plays out, Russia gains a new leader. Not just a president, but a new tsar, a signal to the world that the old, imperial Russia is back. And in America, a mysterious killer brutally murders an innocent family and literally flattens the small Midwestern town they once called home. Just a taste, according to the new tsar, of what will happen if America does not back down. Onto this stage must step Alex Hawke, espionage agent extraordinaire and the only man who can stop the absolute madness borne and bred inside the "New Russia." Gripping and imaginative, Tsar is Ted Bell’s most explosive tale of international suspense to date.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In bestseller Bell's rousing fifth thriller (after Spy), Alex Hawke fights the leaders of a new and invigorated Russia, where Vladimir Putin has been locked up in a lethal prison built over a massive radioactive waste site. Evil mastermind Count Ivan Korsakov (aka the Dark Rider) is determined to return Mother Russia to her rightful place in the world order by reacquiring her former colonies, after which he intends to conquer Europe and reign as the new tsar. The only thing standing in his way is Hawke, who, as series fans well know, is more than up to the task of thwarting those who try to take over the globe. Life throws Hawke a curve when he finds himself falling in love with the astoundingly beautiful Anastasia, who just happens to be Korsakov's daughter. As always, Bell pulls out all the stops with terrific action scenes, fiendish murders, diabolical villains, dramatic rescues and all the cool weaponry the reader could possibly hope for. (Sept.)

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Publisher's Weekly

"As always, Bell pulls out all the stops with terrific action scenes, fiendish murders, diabolical villains, dramatic rescues and all the cool weaponry the reader could possibly hope for."

Library Journal

Bell continues his New York Times best-selling Alex Hawke series with this spellbinding fifth entry, following Spy(2006). Audie® Award-nominated series reader John Shea places listeners directly alongside Hawke and the other characters. His accents-e.g., British, Russian, "Noo-Yawk," Jamaican-are so excellent that listeners will forgive his occasional lapses in pronunciation. Highly recommended. [The Atria hc was "recommended for public libraries," LJ 8/08.-Ed.]
—Joseph L. Carlson

From the Publisher
"As always, Bell pulls out all the stops with terrific action scenes, fiendish murders, diabolical villains, dramatic rescues and all the cool weaponry the reader could possibly hope for." -Publisher's Weekly

"I couldn't put it down." - Rush Limbaugh

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423374930
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
06/30/2009
Series:
Alex Hawke Series, #5
Edition description:
Abridged, 4 CDs, 4 hrs. 33 min.
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Tsar

  • War and peace. In Alexander Hawke’s experience, life usually boiled down to one or the other. Like his namesake late father, a hero much decorated for his daring Cold War exploits against the Soviets, Hawke greatly favored peace but was notoriously adept at war. Whenever and wherever in the world his rather exotic skill set was required, Alex Hawke gladly sallied forth. Cloak donned, dagger to hand, he would jubilantly enter and reenter the eternal fray.

    He was thirty-three years old. A good age, by his accounts, not too young and not too old. A fine balance of youth and experience, if one could be so bold.

    Alex Hawke, let it first be said, was a creature of radiant violence. Attack came naturally to him; the man was all fire. Shortly after his squalling birth, his very English father had declared to Kitty, his equally American mother, “He seems to me a boy born with a heart ready for any fate. I only wonder what ballast will balance all that bloody sail.”

    He was normally a cool, rather detached character, but Alex Hawke’s simmering blood could roil to a rapid boil at very short notice. Oddly enough, his true nature was not readily apparent to the casual observer. Someone who chanced to meet him, say, on an evening’s stroll through Berkeley Square would find him an amiable, even jolly chap. He might even be whistling a chirrupy tune about nightingales or some such. There was an easy grace about the man, a cheery nonchalance, a faint look of amusement uncorrupted by self-satisfaction about the eyes.

    But it was Hawke’s “What the hell” grin, a look so freighted with charm that no woman, and even few men, could resist, that made him who he was.

    Hawke was noticeable. A big man with a heroic head, he stood well north of six feet and worked hard at a strict exercise regimen to keep himself extremely fit. His face was finely modeled, its character deeply etched by the myriad wonders and doubts of his inner experience.

    His glacial blue eyes were brilliant, and the play of his expression had a flashing range, from the merriment and charm with which he charged his daily conversation to a profound earnestness. His demeanor quickly could assume a tragic and powerful look, which could make even a trivial topic suddenly assume new and enlightening importance.

    He had a full head of rather untamable jet-black hair, a high, clear brow, and a straight, imperious nose. Below it was a strong chin and a well-sculpted mouth with just a hint of come-hither cruelty at the corners.

    Picture a hale fellow well met whom men wanted to stand a drink and whom women much preferred horizontal.

    HE’D BEEN DOZING on a pristine Bermuda beach for the better part of an hour. It was a hot day, a day that was shot blue all through. The fluttering eyelids and the thin smile on Hawke’s salt-parched lips belied the rather exotic dream he was having. Suddenly, some noise from above, perhaps the dolphinlike clicking of a long-tailed petrel, startled him from his reverie. He cracked one eye, then the other, smiling at the fleeting memory of sexual bliss still imprinted on the back of his mind.

    Erotic images, fleshy nymphs of pink and creamy white, fled quickly as he raised his head and peered alertly at the brightness of the real world through two fiercely narrowed blue eyes. Just inside the reef line, a white sail shivered and flipped to leeward. As he watched the graceful little Bermuda sloop, the sail turned to windward again, and from across the water he distinctly heard a sound he loved, the ruffle and snap of canvas.

    No question about this time and place in his life, he thought, gazing at the gently lapping surf: my blue heaven.

    Here on this sunlit mid-Atlantic isle, peace abounded. These, finally, were the “blue days” he had longed for. His most recent “red” period, a rather dodgy affair involving a madman named Papa Top and armies of Hezbollah jihadistas deep in the Amazon, was mercifully fading from memory. Every new blue day pushed those fearful memories deeper into the depths of his consciousness, and for that he was truly grateful.

    He rolled over easily onto his back. The sugary sand, like pinkish talc, was warm beneath his bare skin. He must have drifted off after his most recent swim. Hmm. He linked his hands behind his still damp head and breathed deeply, the fresh salt air filling his lungs.

    The sun was still high in the azure Bermuda sky.

    He lifted his arm to gaze lazily at his dive watch. It was just after two o’clock in the afternoon. A smile flitted across his lips as he contemplated the remainder of the day’s schedule. He had nothing on this evening save a quiet dinner with his closest friend, Ambrose Congreve, and Congreve’s fiancée, Diana Mars, at eight. He licked the dried salt from his lips, closed his eyes, and let the sun take his naked body.

    His refuge was a small cove of crystalline turquoise water. Wavelets slid up and over dappled pinkish sand before retreating to regroup and charge once more. This tiny bay, perhaps a hundred yards across at its mouth, was invisible from the coast road. The South Road, as it was called, had been carved into the jagged coral and limestone centuries earlier and extended all the way along the coast to Somerset and the Royal Naval Dockyard.

    Fringed with flourishing green mangrove and sea-grape, Hawke’s little crescent of paradise was indistinguishable from countless coves just like it stretching east and west along the southern coast of Bermuda. The only access was from the sea. After months of visiting the cove undisturbed, he’d begun to think of the spot as his own. He’d even nicknamed it “Bloody Bay” because he was usually so bloody exhausted when he arrived there after a 3-mile swim.

    Hawke had chosen Bermuda carefully. He saw it as an ideal spot to nurse his wounds and heal his battered psyche. Situated in the mid-Atlantic, roughly equidistant between his twin capitals of London and Washington, Bermuda was quaintly civilized, featured balmy weather and a happy-go-lucky population, and it was somewhere few of his acquaintances, friend or foe, would ever think to look for him.

    In the year before, his bout of nasty scrapes in the Amazon jungles had included skirmishes with various tropical fevers that had nearly taken his life. But after six idyllic months of marinating in this tropic sea and air, he concluded that he’d never felt better in his life. Even with a modest daily intake of Mr. Gosling’s elixir, called by the natives black rum, he had somehow gotten his six-foot-plus frame down to his fighting weight of 180. He now had a deep tan and a flat belly, and he felt just fine. In his early thirties, he felt twenty if a day.

    Hawke had taken refuge in a small, somewhat dilapidated beach cottage. The old house, originally a sugar mill, was perched, some might say precariously, above the sea a few miles west of his current location. He had gotten into the very healthy habit of swimming to this isolated beach every day. Three miles twice daily was not excessive and not a bad addition to his normal workout routine, which included a few hundred situps and pullups, not to mention serious weight training.

    His privacy thus ensured, his habit at his private beach was to shed his swimsuit once he’d arrived. He’d made a ritual of stripping it off and hanging it on a nearby mangrove branch. Then a few hours sunning au naturel, as our French cousins would have it. He was normally a modest man, but the luxuriant feeling of cool air and sunlight on parts not normally exposed was too delightful to be denied. He’d gotten so accustomed to this new regime that the merest idea of wearing trunks here would seem superfluous, ridiculous even. And—what?

    He stared with disbelieving eyes.

    What the bloody hell was that?

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    Meet the Author


    Ted Bell
    is the former vice-chairman of the Board and World-Wide Creative Director of Young and Rubicam, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. He is New York Times bestselling author of Nick of Time, Hawke, Assassin, Pirate, and Spy, and makes his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

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    Tsar (Alex Hawke Series #5) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 98 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Just a quick note to extend my sincere thanks for all your wonderful books. I absolutely love the character you have created in Hawke. Fascinating and imaginative; absolutely first rate.

    In all fairness, being Irish, I was initially a skeptic regarding the British agent aspect, however, having some intel background (American Agencies not Irish), I have to admit that your combination of fiction, fact and implication; well to put it simply, they truly warrant extreme praise. Even if the character is English.

    I have one question, however, concerning the latest installment, Tsar. While I enjoyed it immensely, especially how you incorporated all of Putin's qualities into Rostov while keeping Putin separate, I gotta know something; specifically, did you mention the GRU on purpose, because most authors never seem to catch the fact that they were and may still be the largest intel threat in existence. Clearly you have done your homework.

    I suspect you may even be familiar with their famous defector Stanislav Lunev. A truly fascinating, albeit a somewhat frightening man to speak with in person.

    With any luck I will meet you at a book signing in the future. It would be interesting to compare notes; at least to the extent possible.

    Once again, thank you for the novels.

    O'C
    KenCady More than 1 year ago
    This book appealed to me as I like Ted Bell's stories. One could pick with this or that, but overall it's a good read, with plenty of suspense and interesting turns.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    ive read all of ted bells books including: nick of time, hawke, assassin, pirate, and spy, and cant wait for this new tsar book. im sure it will be just as good as his other amazing works hes written.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I'm not normally a great fan of "genre fiction" but I must say this thriller
    has given me a new appreciation for what a talented author can do within
    the parameters of any genre. There is humor here, and lovely turns of phrases,
    there is an immensely appealing hero, and a topical plot that would one to
    believe the author has "friends in high places". I could not recommend a book
    more highly.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Rough and tough action in a setting that mirrors the current problems of a dangerous world.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I don't know where this author gets his information but it has to be someplace the rest of us can't go. This book outlines a detailed plan for Russia to go back to her old Soviet borders and unless Putin got an early copy, it's a little eery that Bell was writing this over a year ago, given events in Georgia. But the best part was the sheer joy of reading an absolutely thrilling novel, beautifully written, with marvelous characters, and an ending which will have you searching for the oxygen canister! It's funny in places, but not over the top. One page you're laughing your head off and the next you're scared out of your wits. Thrillers this good don't come down the pike very often. I read a lot of same old, same old in the genre. But not Tsar. It's not even remotely like nothing else out there.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Vladimir Putin has brought pride (and heat) to the Russian people as he looks into Bush¿s soul and found it lacking he faces down the inane NATO attempts to contain his beloved motherland, the New Russia. Meanwhile British super SPY Alex Hawke relaxes on a Bermuda beach after completing his last mission. There he meets and begins to fall in love with Russian artist Anastasia Korsakova.------------ Her father is internationally renowned for his inventions and scientific research a Noble Prize winner. However, her dad Count Ivan Korsakov is also the secretive Dark Rider, who is the power behind Russia Putin isn¿t even puppet status. The Dark Rider¿s short term goal is to rebuild the Soviet Empire his long term goal, all of Europe and his BHAG the globe. His troops are set to invade their neighbors as step 1 while his agents begin a terrorist plot on American soil as step 1A. Only Hawke has the skills to prevent Cold War II turning into WW III but he is somewhat preoccupied by the daughter of the Tsar of the new Russian Empire.--------------------- Talk about timing with the Georgia invasion, Ted bell looks like a genius with this action-packed electrifying thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Alex and Anastasia meet and never slows down as confrontation seemingly everywhere is the norm. Readers will salute Mr. Bell for his astuteness while appreciating a terific tale starring espionage agent Hawkins vs. the real New Russia.--------------- Harriet Klausner
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I haven't read a thriller this good since Robert Ludlum passed away. And it gave me hope for the future of this genre. Instead of the formulaic pablum I see out there, this is a work of great originality, style, and intelligence. I parsed it out, reading only a chapter a night in order to make it last as long as possible. When it was over, I missed the characters so much I went out and ordered the entire series. Do not listen to these negative reviews, buy the book and you'll see what I mean. It is a must read for anyone who enjoys literate fiction of any kind.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Has to be my favorite action/political/spy thriller ever. It's my first Hawke book
    and I had no idea what I was in for. From the opening line of the first chapter,
    'War and peace', I knew I was in very capable hands. This is no ordinary formula
    driven author. Tremendous freshness, humor, emotion, character depth, action,
    violence (a little too much maybe) and sex. Lots of sex. This is the complete package
    and what thrillers (though so few are) are supposed to be all about. You can be laughing, scared senseless, and on the verge or tears and that just doesn't happen in most of the
    thrillers I've read lately. An original talent and one to watch. Can't wait for the next one and looking forward to starting at the beginning with Hawke. Finally, I'm hooked on a series again and it's a joy.
    SpikeJL More than 1 year ago
    If you like Ian Fleming and Clive Cussler, you will like this book, too. Very exciting and just the thing for a rainy day or a long flight from coast to coast. Share with the spouse, too.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I bought this book for my husband for this coming Christmas, but he couldn't wait
    and opened it early!!! He read it cover to cover in one weekend and was completely
    crazy about it. He insisted I read it (I only read non-fiction, history and biography)
    but I have to admit I was blown away by this book. It is wonderfully written and non-stop action from the first page to the last. Parts of it are hysterically funny and the hero
    is VERY attractive. A great love story underlies all the action and, not wanting to be
    a spoiler I won't tell you the ending but I will say I was so emotionally caught up with
    the characters I actually cried!!! I'm going break my non-fiction habit for this writer
    and read everyone of his books. They are not just good literature, they are absolutely
    fabulous.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am not alone. I LOVE this book! We had it in my book club this month and it was
    unanimous: an almost perfect spy thriller! First, it's about Russia, and there is a great
    deal of historical background that puts what's going on today in perspective. Putin has
    a cameo that is one of the most hysterically funny scenes I've seen in years. I read it
    out loud to our little group. And if there is a more attractive, appealing, devil-may-care hero in modern fiction than Alex Hawke I'd like to hear about him. He is the best and if they don't make a movie of this series, they've lost it out there. The supporting roles are all 3 dimensional and you come to care about each and every one of them. My favorite is Stokely Jones who makes me laugh every time he has a line of dialog. Brilliant writing, tight plot, completely unexpected climax, and I could not recommend a book more highly. Don't miss this one, it's the sleeper hit of the fall line-up.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    As always found Ted Bell's book intriguing and worth the read. Excellent for international flights
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    To all the haters out there - please. Someone actually posted a poor review because in the book someone received a stay of execution and it wasn't from the president. Someone else ripped it because in the book people sip vodka and the reviewer doesn't enjoy sipping vodka. Come on. I guess these same people think everything James Bond does is possible and never a stretch. The book is for entertainment and that's exactly what it provides. I look forward to #6 in the series, Warlord. To all the haters, please write your own novel, I'd love to read it. I'm sure you're above all criticism - what a joke. Keep up the good work Ted.
    LuigiLS More than 1 year ago
    Started this book and thought I was going to find it a bit sophomoric, but actually ended up enjoying it a good bit. It's written along the lines of one of the old Ian Fleming James Bond thrillers with a larger than life hero and antics that stretch the limits of credulity. The character development is about what one would expect from a book that strives more to entertain than to become great literature. But I've got to say that it ended up being a fun read with some interesting plot twists. It doesn't hurt that there are plentiful references to contemporary and historic people and politics that tend to help keep one engaged. I've read one other book in this series by Mr. Bell, "Pirate", and it was similarly entertaining. Either would make a great beach read.
    Stonewall42 More than 1 year ago
    Ted Bell has done it again. I have read some of the other books by T. Bell and found them all hard to put down. The characters I thought, were very interesting and colorful. I believe the main character "Alex Hawke" is better than James Bond at getting out of trouble spots. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a thrill ride they won't forget.
    DennisThompson More than 1 year ago
    This is the latest installment in the Alexander Hawke series and I thought it was the best one to date. It is very contemporary with world situations very familiar to present day headlines. The locations are great and described very accurately. The climax presents a moral dilemma that would be very difficult to resolve and I am not sure I could have handled is as nobly as Hawke. I think it might quite difficult for the author to come up with an additional Hawke novel that would come close to topping this one.
    Peteman1 More than 1 year ago
    Do you enjoy Dirk Pitt novels? Classic James Bond written by Ian Fleming? Ted Bell has managed to create an interesting character who readers of either type can enjoy. Over the top plots, characters blessed by wealth and upbringing, world-wide settings, and a speedy pace make the "Hawke" books faster reads than thought by their thick pages. Great for the rainy day, airplane, or beach for pure escapism. If you're looking for Dostoyevski, not for you. If you read for entertainment, just fine.
    bigdad1 More than 1 year ago
    Very exciting book, good characters and plot. Good author.
    Sam-C More than 1 year ago
    If I can at least finish a bad novel, I'll give it two stars. I hardly ever stop reading a book primarily because I hate leaving anything unfinished. However, with "Tsar," I'm making an exception. I cannot fathom how I managed to get through 21 chapters/235 pages of this cliched, contrived, unoriginal, verbose nonsense. This is no exaggeration: I think roughly 200 pages out of the 235 I managed to read (choke down, really) were devoted to superfluous description and cheesy dialogue. I also tried to keep count of all of the "friggin'," "freakin'," and "f'crissakes" uses, but gave up. Even character names began to irritate me. I don't think that's ever happened to me before... Thank God this book was loaned to me, so that I didn't have to waste a cent on it. I need a good book to get me out of this poorly written novel rut in which I find myself.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Ted Bell continues the maturation of a lonely defferential billionaire British Spy! The Hawke series is at once fun, imaginative, and always with historical perspectives in place. "Tsar" will rock your literary world of adventure with more than a thrill or two that you don't see coming! Even Lord Alexander Hawke doesn't see everything in the end! And that is a hint for the wise!
    PainFrame More than 1 year ago
    You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay here. Book Five of the exponentially great Alex Hawke adventures. This one, so far, is my favorite. I’ve always enjoyed this series, but this story in particular really got to me. Like Alex, I too fell in love with Anastasia, and was swept up along with him in everything that happened all the way through until the end. On the surface, this series may draw strong comparisons to Bond, which I understand, but there’s a lot of originality here which shouldn’t be overlooked. Most notable to me is how the characters are forever changed by the events they endure, and I’m afraid poor Alex will not quickly rebound from this one. I’m still surprised by how deeply I was affected by this, really well done.
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