An ingenious, fast-paced historical thriller from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Templar
On a cold, bleak day in 1916, all hell breaks loose in a 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 confidant of the tsar—hit a detonator, blowing up the mine to conceal all evidence of the carnage.
In the present day, FBI agent Sean Reilly’s search for Reed Corrigan, the CIA mindcontrol spook who brainwashed Reilly’s son, takes a backseat to a new, disturbing case. A Russian embassy attaché seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of a fourth-floor window in Queens. The apartment’s owners, a retired physics teacher from Russia and his wife, have gone missing, and further investigation reveals that the former may not be who the FBI believe him to be.
Joined by Russian Federal Security Service agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva, Reilly’s investigation of the old man’s identity will uncover a desperate search for a small, mysterious device, with consequences that reach back in time and which, in the wrong hands, could have a devastating impact on the modern world.
Packed with the twists, intrigue, and excitement that Khoury’s many fans have come to expect, Rasputin’s Shadow will keep readers turning pages long into the night.
About the Author
RAYMOND KHOURY is the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Templar, The Sanctuary, The Sign, The
Templar Salvation, and The Devil’s Elixir. Also an acclaimed screenwriter and producer, he lives in London with his family.
Read an Excerpt
Ural Mountains, Russian Empire
As the high-pitched shriek reverberated against the walls of the copper mine, Maxim Nikolaev felt an unusual pinch deep in his skull.
The big man set down his pickax and wiped his brow just as the painful sensation subsided. He took in a deep breath, flooding his already-infested lungs with more toxic dust. He didn’t even notice or care anymore. Right then, the mid-morning break was all he was thinking of, given that his working day had started at five.
As the last echoes of the whistle died out around him and with the army of pickaxes now at rest, Maxim heard the distant sound of the Miass River, out by the mouth of the open mine. It reminded him of when he was a boy, when his uncle often took him swimming at a secluded spot on the outskirts of Ozyorsk, away from the thick, putrid smoke that belched out of the smelting plant twenty-four hours a day.
He remembered the smell of the pine trees, so tall they seemed to touch the sky. He missed the tranquility of the place.
He missed the open sky and the clean air even more.
A voice rang out from farther down the tunnel. “Hey, Mamo, get your ass over here. We’re playing for a go on Pyotr’s daughter.”
Maxim wanted to roll his eyes at Vasily, partly for the diminutive, which he hated, and partly for the man’s general stupidity, but the wiry bastard took offense at the slightest provocation, so Maxim smiled at the group of men instead, hefted his pickax onto a broad, muscle-bound shoulder, and sauntered over to where the three other mudaks were already at their regular seats.
He sat down next to the unfortunate Pyotr and set his tool against the wall beside him. Maxim had laid eyes on the man’s daughter only once, and though she was indeed strikingly beautiful, he had no doubt that she could certainly do a lot better than any of the pathetic losers around him toiling deep in the bowels of the earth for a less-than-meager wage.
Maxim fished out a small flask—?a punishable offense—?and took a long swig, then wiped his mouth with a grimy sleeve. “Let’s play, then,” he told Vasily. He might as well try to win some money from the leering idiot if he could.
Stanislav, the most pathetic of the foursome, went first, followed by Pyotr, then Maxim. Then Vasily’s turn came around. He slammed his fist down onto a just-turned Queen of Hearts, rattling the half-broken wooden table around which the four men sat, then leaned back with a smug smile on his face.
Maxim didn’t flinch. His mind was already drifting away. He felt another odd tingling in his head, like a little tickle really, deep in his brain. For some reason, he thought of how much he hated Ochko. Everyone pretended it was about skill when really luck was all you needed. He much preferred Durak, a game that seemed to be about luck, but was really about skill. He had never once been the last to hold cards in twenty-seven years of playing that game. It was probably why that leech Vasily refused to play the game with him.
Vasily’s croaky voice broke through his curdled thoughts. “Come on, Mamo, deal yourself a card before we all turn to stone.”
Maxim looked down and realized he had turned over his first two cards without even looking at them.
Stanislav turned a Seven of Clubs, unsurprisingly cutting him out of the game after three cards. Pyotr turned a Two of Spades, giving himself nineteen. He looked nervously at Vasily, whose expression didn’t change. The bastard was leading with eighteen. That, and he was a very bad loser. Vasily gestured at Maxim to hurry up and take his turn, presumably so he could turn a Three and win the small pile of coins sitting in the middle of the table.
Maxim really didn’t want to let him win. Not that day. Not there, not then. And as he was about to turn his card, he felt a piercing sensation worm its way through the back of his skull. It didn’t last for more than a breath. He shook his head, shut his eyes, then opened them again. Whatever it was, it had gone.
He peeked at his card, then looked up at Vasily. The wiry creep was leering at him and right then, Maxim knew that the man was cheating. He didn’t know why, but he was dead sure of it.
Not only cheating, but looking at him like—?like he hated him. More than hated. Loathed. Despised.
Like he wanted to kill him.
And right then, Maxim realized that he loathed Vasily even more. His veins throbbing angrily against his skull, he managed to turn over his card. He watched as Vasily dropped his eyes to take it in. It was a Five of Diamonds. Maxim was also out. Vasily smirked at him and turned his own card. A Four of Hearts. Too many. He had won.
“That’s us, moi lyubimye,” Vasily said, all smug and reaching out to gather his winnings. “Four hearts, beating as one.”
Maxim’s hand shot out to block Vasily, but just as he did, Stanislav turned away from the table and convulsed before throwing up, spewing the contents of his belly onto the cheat’s boots.
“Fuu! Stanislav, you son of a whore—” Vasily lurched back from the retching man, then a pained look spread across his face and he fell off the wooden crate on which he had been sitting and hit the ground, clutching his head, knocking over the table and sending the cards flying off.
Pyotr shot to his feet too, flaring with indignation. “Four? What four? I didn’t see a four. You filthy cheat.”
Maxim swung his gaze back at Stanislav, whose eyes were bloodshot, as if the force of his retching had blown all the blood vessels in his face, and Maxim knew, knew for sure, that Stanislav had also been cheating. They all had, the swine. They were going to fleece him—?then they were going to hurt him.
As if to confirm it, Vasily started to laugh. Not just a laugh, a demonic, deep-rooted laugh that gushed with contempt and mockery and—?Maxim was sure of it—?hatred.
Maxim stared at him, rooted to the mine’s soil, feeling the sweat seep out of him, unsure of what to do—
He saw Vasily take a step in his direction—?he really didn’t look at all well—?then the cheat’s eyes went wild and the man stopped in his tracks.
Pyotr had just embedded Maxim’s hack into the side of Vasily’s head.
Maxim lurched back as Vasily hit the ground at his feet, a fountain of blood gushing out of the man’s skull. Then he was aware that the pain in the back of his head was back, sharper than before. An intense fear washed over him. He would be next. He was sure of it.
They were going to kill him unless he killed them first.
He’d never been as sure of anything in his entire life.
Angry yells erupted from other recesses of the mine as he launched himself at Pyotr, blocking his arm while grabbing the hack and fighting the murderous cheat for it. In the dim light of the lone grimy lantern, he glimpsed Stanislav, back on his feet, going for his pickax too. Everything turned into a blur of claws and swings and shouts and punches until Maxim felt something warm in his hands, something he was absolutely compelled to squeeze until his hands met each other in the middle, and when clarity returned to his eyes, he saw poor Pyotr’s eyeless, bloodied face turn a livid purple as he snapped the man’s neck.
All around him, the air was suddenly full of screaming and the sound of steel cleaving through flesh and bone.
Maxim smiled and sucked in a big lungful of air. He had never heard anything so beautiful—?then something flashed in the corner of his vision.
He leaned backward as the ax came swinging toward his neck and felt the displaced air blow across his face. He jabbed a fist into his attacker’s ribs, then another. Something crunched. He stepped behind the groaning man, swung an arm around his throat—?it was Popov, the shift manager, who had never even raised his voice the whole time that Maxim had worked there—?and began to choke him.
Popov dropped to the ground like a sack of beetroot.
Maxim grabbed the ax from the dead man’s hand and immediately buried it in the face of Stanislav, who already had the hack he was holding halfway through an arc toward Maxim’s chest. Maxim tried to duck out of its path, but the hack still connected and gouged a large chunk out of his side.
Stanislav toppled backward and fell to the ground, the ax embedded in his face.
Maxim dropped to his knees, then keeled over, grabbing his torn flesh with both hands, trying to push the two sides of the wound back together.
He lay there, writhing on the ground, pain shooting through him, his hands bathed in his own blood, and glanced down the mineshaft. He could barely make out the dimly lit silhouettes of other mudaks up and down the tunnels, hacking away at one another furiously.
He looked down to the wound in his side. His blood was rippling through his fingers and cascading onto the thick grime of the mine floor. He kept staring at it as the death cries echoed around him and the minutes slipped by, his mind numb, his thoughts adrift in a maelstrom of confusion—?then a powerful explosion ripped through the air behind him.
The walls shook, and dust and rock shards rained down on him.
Three other explosions followed, knocking the lanterns off their mounts and plunging the already-dark tunnels of the mine into total darkness.
Everything went deathly silent for a brief moment—?then came a cool breeze and an urgent, rushing sound.
A rush that turned into a roar.
Maxim stared into the darkness. He never saw the solid wall of water that plowed into him with the force of an anvil and whisked him away. But in those seconds of consciousness, in those last moments before the water overpowered his lungs and the force of the torrent slammed him against the tunnel wall, Maxim Nikolaev’s final thoughts were of his boyhood and of how peaceful it would be to return to the river of his youth.
Standing by the detonator at the mouth of the tunnel, the man of science listened until all silence returned to the mountain. He was shaking visibly, though not from the cold. His companion, on the other hand, was unnaturally calm and serene. Which made the scientist shake even more.
They had made the long journey together, from the distant isolation of the Siberian monastery to this equally forsaken place. A journey that had started many years ago with the promise of great things, but that had since veered into savage, criminal territory. The man of science couldn’t quite put his finger on how they’d reached this point of no return, how it had all degenerated into mass murder. And as he stared at his companion, he feared there would be more to come.
“What have we done?” he muttered, fearful even as the words snuck past his lips.
His companion turned to face him. For a man of such power and influence, a man who had become an intimate friend and confidant of the tsar and tsarina, he was unusually dressed. An old, greasy jacket, tattered around the cuffs. Baggy trousers that hung low at the back, like the serouals worn by the Turks. A farmer’s oiled boots. Then there was the wild, tangled beard, and the greasy hair, parted down the middle like that of a tavern waiter. The scientist knew it was all artifice, of course, all part of a calculated look. A craftily honed image for a grand master plan, one in which the man of science had become an enabler and an accomplice. A costume designed to convey the humbleness and humility of a true man of God. An outfit so basic it also couldn’t possibly detract from its wearer’s hypnotic, gray-blue gaze.
The gaze of a demon.
“What have we done?” his companion replied in his odd, simple, almost primordial manner of speech. “I’ll tell you what we’ve done, my friend. You and me . . .? we’ve just ensured the salvation of our people.”
As always happened in the other’s company, the man of science felt a numbing weakness overcome him. All he could do was stand there and nod. But as he began to digest what they had just done, a stifling darkness descended upon him and he wondered about what horrors lay ahead, horrors he would have never imagined possible back in that secluded monastery, where he’d first met the mysterious peasant. Where the man had brought him back from the edge, shown him the wonder of his gift, and talked to him about his wanderings among the hidden cloisters deep in the forests and the beliefs he had learned there. Where the mystic with the piercing eyes had first told him about the advent of “true tsar,” a fair ruler, a redeemer of the people born of the common folk. A savior of Holy Rus.
For the briefest moment, the man of science wondered if he’d ever be able to extricate himself from his mentor’s hold and avoid the madness that surely lay ahead. But as quickly as the thought had surfaced, it was gone, snuffed out before it could even begin to take shape.
He’d never seen anyone refuse anything of Grigory Efimovich Rasputin.
And he knew, with crippling certainty, that his will was far from strong enough for him to be the first.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for the novels of Raymond Khoury
“[Khoury] has an intense brand of storytelling all his own.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Steve Berry
“History, mystery, suspense, and action—Khoury knows the recipe for a good read.”—Library Journal
“Khoury’s thrillers engage the reader’s mind, even as they move at a breakneck pace.”—Booklist (Starred Review)
“A world-class writer of purebred thrillers.”—The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
RASPUTIN'S SHADOW by Raymond Khoury is a thrill ride of a Historical Thriller set in 1916 Russia and present day Queen's, New York. Featuring FBI agent Sean Reilly and Russian FBI agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva and based on one of the most controversial and infamous figures in Russian history, Grigory Efimovich Rasputin. Who was the healer and spiritual adviser to the famous Romanov family in Russia. While,slow in the beginning it picks up nicely. Filled with secrets, murder, the Cold War of Russia, danger,political intrigue, and a very intense thriller. It will keep you on the edge of your seat with twists and turns, as Mr. Khoury infuses historical facts with mystery, suspense, and intrigue. This was turbulent times for the Romanov dynasty and Russia, in the years prior to our story. Rasputin was a cunning man who used and exploited not only women, but anyone who was gullible or superstitious. He basically used people for his own purposes. With this said "Rasputin's Shadow" is a very intriguing and interesting tale of intrigue, murder, and mystery. If you enjoy fast paced, action packed thrillers, Russian history,intrigue, the Romanov dynasty, than "Rasputin's Shadow" is the story for you to pick up. It will leave you breathless, as well as in awe, at the complexity of "Rasputin's Shadow". Well written with in depth details and interesting characters. Received for an honest review from the publisher and/or publicist. RATING: 4.5 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
A strange beginning occurs when a group of miners in Russia after hearing an explosion start to violently attack each other to the death. It is 1916 and the people are extremely unhappy with the famous Tsar Alexander and his family. Then the notorious Grigor Efimovich Rasputin appears with his close companion, Misha, announcing that salvation is coming to the land. These two men meet in a monastery where both are seeking God for the redemption of their sinful souls. When Rasputin learns what his friend has invented, the die is cast. Rasputin realizes that his vision of purification is about to unfold through Misha’s secret creation. The scene then shifts to America to a physicist Sokolov who is a quiet man, deeply in love with his wife. They live a simple life which is about to spin totally out of control. For Sokolov has made a grievous error in joining a protest outside the Soviet embassy in New York, not realizing the cameras are turned on and recording the face of every protestor. A Russian diplomat is found dead, having committed suicide or been murdered by being thrown through a high-rise window. Then Sokolov’s wife is kidnapped; but there’s no request for a ransom, and Sokolov knows it is he the criminals are after! The story switches back and forth between the past when Rasputin was able to establish himself as a healer and set about to heal the son of the Tsar. Later he will be killed by the Bolsheviks, but his friend Misha’s invention will not die with him. For his grandson, Sokolov found Misha’s journals which led to a long study of science and the realization of what his grandfather had done. Sokolov, before he met his wife, set himself to replicating the weapon that will bring chaos to the streets of Brooklyn, New York and have the potential to leash the same upon anyone, anywhere, in the world. The question is who will find Sokolov first, now that he has gone into hiding! The police, an FBI agent Sean Reilly, a Korean drug dealer, a Russian mobster, and a Russian agent are all in the race to capture Sokolov. Dead bodies and shootout scenes abound, with car chases, secretive phone calls and more. For this machine, which is really what everyone wants – and most aren’t really sure what the key is to this Sokolov character – has the power to alter the personalities of anyone individually or in a crowd, with devastating, bizarre, and savage results. Rasputin’s Shadow: A Novel is a tautly plotted, intense thriller/mystery and historical novel to rivet every reader’s attention. It certainly would make a phenomenal movie as well but most of all it’s a well-crafted story with several different but interconnected plots. It’s a tale of evil genius creating a tool that in the wrong hands could actually end the world as we know it. Superb job, Raymond Khoury! Highly recommended and worthy of a wide audience!
Known for Historically fact based fiction, Raymond Khoury is [phenomenal with his latest novel, " Rasputin's Shadow". The first person narrative of Sean Reilly sends you on a mind bending, breath taking adventure, with a touch of " Old World Russia", combined with real life drama. Rasputin's Shadow is a riveting thriller. A must read for all
Rasputin’s Shadow is the first Raymond Khory book I’ve read and what a treat! Some history of Rasputin and the Royal Family before the Revolution, mixed with present day information on the Russian and Asian “mafias” in the United States, and likeable characters racing to save the world from an invention that lands in the wrong hands makes for a thrilling read. If you like Steve Berry, you will love Raymond Khoury. I received a complimentary copy of this book through Penguin Firstreads.
I received this book from Book Tribe to give an honest review. The rating is 4 1/2 stars. I am not a big fan of spy novels as sometimes it doesn't catch my interest as much. But with this book just by reading the blurb I knew I had to give this book a try and I am glad I did. The author kept me engage night after night. I kept going are they going to capture the bad guy, who is on our side in this and who is on the other side. The only problem I had with the book hence why I gave it a 4 1/2 star rating as one of the main characters FBI Agent Sean Reilly kept bringing up his son and something happened to Alex. What it was never really clearly made out so I do not know if there is maybe another book that has Sean in it and tells what happened or not. Other than that problem with the book for me it was a great story. FBI Agent Sean Reilly is searching for a couple who has gone missing but the teacher is more than just a teacher! Agent Sean starts getting answers as to what really happened to him and the man that fell out of his window. What he finds out is more bizarre than you would imagine Now the the hunt is on to find the device (which scares me as I wonder if it could really be built) that Leo has built and it all comes down to the wire. It is a fast pace, you go back and forth (though not too much) between the present and the journals. The bodies are starting to pile up and it is going to take some brains to figure out where Koschey is going to take this machine and hit next. If you want to read a good spy novel that will have you wondering what is going to happen next you have to pick this book up.
It's okay to be fooled into thinking RASPUTIN'S SHADOW is a historical account into crazed mind of Rasputin, the man who infamously lead to the downfall of the Russian royal family. About twenty percent of the novel is a fictitious account from Rasputin's partner that has snagged enough loopholes in history to be both plausible and chilling. Truthfully, the historical part of the novel was my favorite part. I was (and still am) entranced by the magic behind Rasputin. The other eighty percent is a modern day thriller with Cold War ethics. It's Russian vs United States and the body count is so high that some of the narrators don't survive for more than a few chapters. In the earliest chapters, the narrative switches are somewhat confusing due to an overuse of "he" instead of the narrator's name. By a quarter of the way through, the voices of the narrators are different enough (and the pronouns less) that there is no confusing. For having an abundance of characters, Raymond Khoury still manages to breath life into his male narrators in the span of mere paragraphs. Each character, no matter how minor their role in the story, establishes a life history, personality, and agenda without ever detouring from the fast-pace plot. There are only a handful of female characters in the story and unfortunately none of them stood out. The believable chemistry between Daphne and Sokolov was enough to salvage her character for me, though Larisa's character had no male counterpart to enhance her plot role. In fact, her storyline was the only one that felt incomplete and sloppy. There simply was not enough development between her introduction and the ending to justify her importance to the plot. But what sells the story is the author's ability to transform facts about both historic and modern Russia into a thriller that raises as many questions as DA VINCI CODE. Could the events in RASPUTIN'S SHADOW come true? How did Rasputin's magic really work? RASPUTIN'S SHADOW is enough of a genre-bender to attract fans of magical realism and historical fiction, while still captivating enough for those who crave government conspiracies, fast-pace action, and a hero worth routing for. (I received a copy of Rasputin's Shadow from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)
This book starts slowly and it is made more difficult by the flashback style and assortment of current and historical characters. Stick to it as the ending is pretty exciting.
Excellent novel. It certainly begs the question as to whether radio waves have had a detrimental effect on our thought -process and sub-conscious behavior. Although this novel is fictional, there is sufficient elements of fact (historical and scientific) to give it a realistic feel. The several page description of how animal behavior can be affected by microwaves (both intentional and unintentional) is chilling, and puts into question whether microwave technology (cell phones) might affect the human subconscious behavior.
Good story. Did not know , much about Rasputin. What a scoundrel. Kept my interest throughout.