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Department Thirteen Paperback – September 15, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JAMES HOUSTON TURNER holds a Bachelor's Degree from Baker University and a Master's Degree from the University of Houston, Clear Lake. Originally from Kansas, James has worked as a journalist in Los Angeles and made numerous trips as a courier and smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain. A cancer survivor against all odds when doctors removed a tumor the size of an orange from his face, James packs his thrillers with the same emotion and determination that he felt in 1991 when told he may not live eighteen months. He is married and divides his time between Australia and California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Comfort Publishing, LLC; 1 edition (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936695421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936695423
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,924,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is really good and I mean every single word I'm about to say. I have backslidden in reading for many months (I am supposed to be a hardcore reader, you know) and James Houston Turner's great story of an ex-KGB agent reignited my love for a good novel and plot.

Aleksandr Talanov is the above-mentioned ex-KGB agent. According to the author, and I'm quoting his exact words here, he said, "Talanov has gone through so much because in many ways my life parallels his, and I have felt--and fought--many of his same demons." In many ways when reading Talanov--the detachment or attempt to detach from love, starting a new life, and so on--resonated with me, as well. Although my life is nowhere near as exciting as that of the agent's (and of course, the author's), I felt for Talanov. What makes him even more likeable is his vulnerability despite being a super thinker and fighter.

So yes, this is a fast-paced book and the storyline totally believable. The author, originally from Kansas now residing in Australia, has made numerous trips as a courier and smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain, so it is not a wonder that the story sounds so real. It's been a while I stayed up past midnight to finish a book and DEPARTMENT THIRTEEN helped me accomplish that. There are enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat (I know many of you probably said or used this term so many times) and for me on my bed with eyes very wide opened. It was an incredible, exhilarating journey.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading the positive reviews here, I bought the book and have to wonder just how many friends of Turner's wrote reviews for him because if they didn't, then we didn't read the same book. There were just too many unbelievable things happening in the book for me to enjoy it. I'll explain a few of them along the way--SPOILER ALERT. The first thing was that 50 guests of the main character Talanov were killed by four hitmen, apparently hoping to kill Talanov as well. He and his wife just "happen" not to be there, but he is implicated in the killings and goes on the run. Where does he run to (after going back to his house once to get stuff that he should have got the first time just in time to see it blown up for no apparent reason)? An old friend he had broken with years before (for unclear reasons) but who not only welcomes him with open arms, but agrees to help him and guarantees that none of his employees will rat him out. Come on, how is that possible? What would you do if a man accused of murdering 50 people (and who ever heard of that big a kill at one time?) turned up? Would you just believe him when he says he didn't do it? This kind of thing continues throughout the book. Talanov has super spies against him but he meets new people who just fall under his spell and are willing to get shot up and die for him, if need be. Of course, Talanov feels bad about them, but once they're no longer of use to him, he forgets about them completely. Police? What police? They hardly exist throughout the book. There are just too many deus ex machina helps for Talanov. The action is fast and furious but just too many things happen to make me shake my head in disbelief. Talanov is too cool and together--except when he needs to look vulnerable to get our sympathy. If you can suspend your disbelief for long stretches of time, you'll probably enjoy the book, but it just didn't work for me.
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By Jana on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I could not sleep last night so about 2 AM I got up and spent some time with Department Thirteen. I dropped off to sleep. This morning I was chased by gunfire in gray metal halls and stairways, with bullets whizzing by. I was running so fast I couldn't breathe and my heart was pounding in my chest. Then I woke up. Maybe Department Thirteen is not a good night time story. No matter now, I finished the book today. I got little else done. An excellent read. Thank you James Houston Turner.
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Format: Paperback
Department Thirteen was the assassination and sabotage unit of the KGB. It never officially existed, but retired KGB colonel Aleksandr Talanov knows that it did. It is but one of the many secrets he has worked hard to forget.

Now living in Sydney, Australia, Talanov and dozens of dinner guests are suddenly the target of assassins. Talanov and his beautiful wife Andrea are mistakenly spared, but soon find themselves running for their lives, hunted by the killers and blamed by the police ...

What I enjoyed about this thriller was that it is a bold departure from the norm: the hero is an ex-pat Russian who is also ex KGB rather than the usual American or British stereotype. The setting too is different with most of the action taking place in Australia. Noteworthy are all the different cultures and communities of contemporary inner city Australia that are captured and reflected accurately. Turner knows this territory and it shows.

This is the second James Houston Turner book I have read and I saw a few of his quality trademark stamps: Lots of exotic food, alluring women, misdirection, deceit, fake identities, fast and frenetic action and plenty of suspense. This time there is also strong grasp of international law and the world of finance to add to that list.

I enjoyed reading how Talanov (turned fugitive and detective by circumstance) attempts to clear his name and solve the mystery. Who or what is `Tango Blue' is just one of the many questions and problems thrown his way. Turner clearly has firsthand knowledge of the media and how it can be manipulated and presented in a certain way thanks to his days as a journalist in LA.
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