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100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced Geopolitical Thriller
Mark Sava, recently retired CIA station chief in Azerbaijan, is trying to live quietly with his girlfriend and teach college classes, but of course it's not to be. Within the first few pages Mark is trying to get his protege, Daria, out of prison, where she has been accused of a horrible crime. The entire CIA staff in Baku has been massacred, and the higher-ups in...
Published on May 20, 2012 by Louis N. Gruber

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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An imperfect yet enjoyable summer read
When I read the blurb, I thought this book might be just the light summer thriller I wanted. I liked the two main characters - Mark Sava and Daria Buckingham - and the geopolitical aspects of the story were believable to me, although in one torture scene (in which not too many gory details are given, no worries there) I think information might have been given up too...
Published on May 26, 2012 by dinglefest


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100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced Geopolitical Thriller, May 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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Mark Sava, recently retired CIA station chief in Azerbaijan, is trying to live quietly with his girlfriend and teach college classes, but of course it's not to be. Within the first few pages Mark is trying to get his protege, Daria, out of prison, where she has been accused of a horrible crime. The entire CIA staff in Baku has been massacred, and the higher-ups in Washington DC are inept and seemingly unconcerned. The case quickly spins out of control. No one is who they appear to be. Friends can't be trusted and enemies are everywhere. Mark, despite his nondescript appearance, is no naive American, but a savvy street-fighter. That's all I'm going to tell you about the plot--it's complicated. The action ranges from Baku in Azerbaijan, to Washington, to Iran, to Iraq, to a village in France, to Dubai. Well, your head will be spinning.

And what was the colonel's mistake? The tragic mistake that has haunted him all his life? I won't tell you that either. Get the book.

Author Dan Mayland seems to know his way around the third world, and the dark outposts of human nature as well. His writing his crisp, lucid, and straightforward, without literary pretensions. The action starts immediately and doesn't let up until the last page. I really enjoyed this book, and finished it within two days, because I couldn't stop reading. This is to be first of a series of Mark Sava novels, and I'll be looking for the next one. Get this book as soon as you can. I recommend it highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Set-Up Leads To An Entertaining And Fast-Paced Adventure That Races Around The Globe, May 24, 2012
This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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Dan Mayland's adventure of global politics and international intrigue, "The Colonel's Mistake," is a book that exceeded my expectations. When you deal with conspiracy and power politics, there is one of two ways that a narrative generally chooses to go. Either it can be an intricately plotted labyrinthine mystery that digs deep into the heart of corruption and deception or it can be a globe-trotting thrill ride as the protagonists outrace menace to uncover long-buried secrets. Mayland's book (the first in a proposed series) is very much the latter. While the novel is set in destinations around the world and its central themes are driven by power struggles involving Iran, China, and the United States, it is not something that requires the reader to have an in-depth knowledge of contemporary international policy to enjoy. It lays out what you need to know for the plot in rather simple terms and then just unleashes the action. Yes, there is mystery but (for my money) the resultant answers were somewhat less interesting than the journey.

The book starts out absolutely brilliantly. We're introduced to Mark Sava, a former CIA bigwig, living a peaceful retirement as a teacher in Baku. The orchestrated murder of a visiting American official puts a former agent of his, Daria Buckingham, in hot water. Sava is literally dragged out of retirement when the entire CIA bureau seems to have been compromised (to put it nicely and vaguely), and he feels a responsibility to try to rescue Buckingham. Buckingham, though, is full of secrets of her own and her agenda may not correspond with what Sava has in mind. The crimes seem to be fueled by warring political factions, international oil deals, and possibly even nuclear weaponry. And juxtaposed throughout are flashbacks to Buckingham's past as well as some questionable politicking in Washington D.C. Just what is going on? Only Sava seems in a position to unravel the truth.

The book quickly becomes a fast paced adventure around the world. Each uncovered clue drives our heroes to a new destination. As Mayland's plot races forward, the book distances itself from a memorable set-up (the opening premise and chapters are truly harrowing). In many ways, the story loses a bit of that sense of eerie reality that had hooked me initially. In the end, some of the explanations were a tad simplistic and not entirely satisfying--but I truly think that's because I heavily invested in the start. And that (and much else) really just turns out to be a relatively minor plot point in the grand scheme of things. Mayland's book is certainly a fast and easy read, and it's fun. I don't think it is a new genre classic or anything (too much is left open-ended or unexplored) but it's a suitably entertaining beach read. Would I read another if this does develop into a series? I probably would. Sava is an interesting lead and Mayland sets up his action sequences quite well. KGHarris, 5/12.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An imperfect yet enjoyable summer read, May 26, 2012
This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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When I read the blurb, I thought this book might be just the light summer thriller I wanted. I liked the two main characters - Mark Sava and Daria Buckingham - and the geopolitical aspects of the story were believable to me, although in one torture scene (in which not too many gory details are given, no worries there) I think information might have been given up too readily. I must commend the author for his solid epilogue - more often than not, thriller authors let the story peter out there, but I think those pages are some of the best written in the book.

It wasn't perfect, though. I consider a thriller to be truly good if I end up forcing myself to read faster and longer in the night than I planned, just so that I can get through the tense parts to a resolution, and that never happened with this one. The character of the SEAL isn't well-developed, and I would have liked to see a little more depth there. Also, one of the major power players (who doesn't get much page-time but is part of the mini-plot back in DC and a significant part of the book's climax) is far more two-dimensional than a character in his role should have been. The main surprise near the end had been obvious for most of the book for me, so I wasn't wowed by it the way other readers might have been. Rumor has it that this is merely the first of the author's Mark Sava books; while I might read future ones, I wouldn't go out of my way to do so.

I still enjoyed it, despite its imperfections, because I was just aiming for a nice geopolitical semi-thriller to escape into.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Game Continues . . ., July 20, 2012
This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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Somebody is killing CIA agents in Baku and it is up to retired station chief Mark Sava to figure out why! When Baku last appeared on the world stage, Hitler's armies were making a mad dash to seize the oil fields. Times change, things stay the same and these days oil-rich Azerbaijan, the scene of Dan Wayland's The Colonel's Mistake is back on the front burner in a power play between the West, the Russians and the Chinese.

Grandma loves a good spy novel and particularly enjoyed Dan Wayland's fresh approach and change of scenery. Others have told you too much of the story already, so I won't ruin an excellent tale by adding to it. Great take-along read. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mistake, June 29, 2012
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Dr Adam Weiss (Buffalo Grove,IL.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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Thomas & Mercer keeps turning out great authors in the espionage and international adventures and The colonel's Mistake is no exception. The main character is a former CIA operative living a broad enjoying the slow pace of teaching part time and the other enjoying the female companionship in Baku, Azerbaijan. Sava is rousted out of bed to be haul down to the local infamous prison where most do not come out a live. Why now? Why him? Because an Iranian American female agent being held there whispered his name? Could this be the beginning to draw him out of early retirement? Who is pulling the strings? Author Maryland writing is interesting and leads the reader into the plot like Ian Fleming writing of the past spy novels. Look forward to more of the author's titles.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment, July 13, 2013
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I found this novel to be lacking in a lot of different ways. First of all, the story was confusing and hard to follow. On top of that, the author did a less than stellar job developing the characters, leaving the reader totally up in the air as to who these people were. A couple of times I considered quitting on the book - something I rarely do. In hindsight, I should have done just that.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Theme, Poorly Executed, September 8, 2012
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The story line was excellent. It takes place starting in Azerbaijan, and working into Iran and France. The action scenes were well done. But there were tremendous gaps as the story ended. An unnecessary killing of a top CIA official added nothing to the story and the ending was artificial and false. I would not recomend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a spy series that does things differently, October 21, 2012
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OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: This is a debut spy thriller that I read a few months ago. It's a fresh new take on the Great Game taking place in central Asia. As with most spy thrillers, they often take the road & tropes that has been beaten to death. This book however doesn't take that path and marks itself as a special debut.

The reason for its special nature is that it does things differently and it doesn't have a superspy as its protagonist but one that has more in common to George Smiley than James Bond. Mark Sava is the main focus of the story and is a professor at a university in Azerbaijan. He is pulled into the main storyline when an ex-associate of his, Daria Buckingham is held as the main culprit in a murder of a US diplomat. Having a very clichéd beginning however doesn't detract from the overall ingenuity of the story. The author then slowly starts laying out his set pieces that make the story stand out.

Based in Azerbaijan and with the plot moving to various countries in the nearby area, the author keeps the story from becoming all too stereotypical. This story is based on the geo-political structure in the Middle East region as well as central Asia with the focus on Iran and other oil-rich countries. Having a very taut storyline that has a few twists plus with the author's background knowledge of the prevalent politics of the region makes this story a very rich one as well as an entertaining one. This story will also showcase a different side to the conflict that we often read about but don't have a real clue about.

Characterization is another strong point as the author gives enough of a background for the main character but also gives many clues for the reader to know that Mark Sava is a cipher that is yet to be revealed completely. The side character cast besides Faria doesn't get much time and so isn't as three-dimensional as Mark & Faria. However there are a couple of side characters that I hope will get broader roles as the series progresses. Again with first books in a series, it's a tight line that authors strive to balance and it will depend on the readers to believe whether he straddled it comfortably or not.

For all those bored with the same old CIA spy crap that involves over zealous soldiers, too-cool-to-be-true gadgetry and cardboard villains, this is the book for you. Dan Mayland writes a smart thriller that educates as well shines a clarifying light on the muddled nature of the geo-politics involved in oil-rich central Asia. This was another debut that stood simply because of the different path taken by the author in regards to a spy thriller story. Do yourself a favor and do not miss this one as I will be eagerly awaiting The Leveling (second book of the Mark Sava series) to see what the author has in store for us and his characters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to a new spy series, June 30, 2012
This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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There a number of things I liked about THE COLONEL'S MISTAKE, the first of a series about ex-CIA agent Mark Sava. First it's not attempting to be a James Bond clone-wannabe. So many new spy series just seem to try to copy the Ian Fleming template. Second, it's a straight forward tale of intrigue and espionage written in a way to keep you guessing throughout. Third, the characters are interesting and very well developed. I read this book in one sitting and look forward to the next installment.

Mark Sava is a retired CIA agent and section leader living in Baku, Azerbaijan which is sandwiched between Russia to the north and Iran to the south. Living off his retirement he's become a teacher at a local college and takes pleasure in not being involved with CIA activities. But when an American Diplomat is assassinated in Baku, the local CIA agents massacred, and one of his former subordinates arrested he is thrown back into the world of espionage to save himself and those around him. With the help of ex-navy seal John Decker he starts to unravel the mystery behind the violence by first springing his subordinate, Daria Buckingham, from prison but then finding out he may not be able to trust her. As events unfold the story takes the reader on a wild ride of violence and intrigue as Sava bounces around the Middle East in an attempt to stop a possible nuclear attack by Iranian extremists only to discover there is more than meets the eye on who is actually behind the attacks.

In Sava we see a person highly trained as a field agent but who is not impervious to the violence around him. His only hope of survival is to stay one step ahead of his enemies. The author takes his time to develop each main character so that the reader understands what motivates them into the actions they take. To me the best thing about the story is the author does not fill it with a bunch of gadgets to help the characters. The book is basically an old-fashion blood-and-guts spy story written in a way to keep the reader on the edge of his seat. To say I enjoyed this is an understatement.

I would recommend this to any person who enjoys a strong spy yarn, filled with intrigue and violence. You certainly will not be disappointed
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spies, espionage and thrills galore!, June 18, 2012
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book reader "mary" (Santa Barbara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) (Paperback)
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Dan Mayland has written a great novel filled with plot twists and turns. "The Colonel's Mistake" takes us on a journey involving national and global politics and espionage that includes places such as Iran, France, and Dubai. The story is gripping and keeps you turning pages wanting to see what happens next. You find yourself pulling for the main character, Mark Rava, as he struggles to stay alive through as the plot unfolds.

I am very impressed with Dan Mayland's ability to tell a good story. He keeps it very interesting by weaving in vivid descriptions of the countryside and cities that Mark visits on his adventure.

If you are a fan of spy adventures with lots of plot twists - then The Colonel's Mistake will not disappoint you.
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The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel)
The Colonel's Mistake (A Mark Sava Spy Novel) by Dan Mayland (Paperback - August 21, 2012)
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