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High Hand: A Novel Paperback – January 4, 2018
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From the Back Cover
- Item Weight : 1.06 pounds
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0986430323
- ISBN-13 : 978-0986430329
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Copper Peak Press; 2nd edition (January 4, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,376,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The main characters include a newspaper reporter, Adams, who had been assigned to cover Russia in Moscow soon after the breakup of the Soviet Union whose then-wife Lisa was a CIA undercover agent operating with non-official cover status. Other important characters include Lisa's father who publishes the LA paper Adams still works for, and a group of men and women who were part of a regular poker night at Adams's Moscow apartment back in his foreign correspondent days.
Sound like a normal spy thriller? Nope, it's more of a political thriller with a mystery on the side. Each of those poker players were parts of embassy staffs, journalists, or affiliated with Moscow universities as students or professors. Just about all of them had ties with various countries' covert agencies including sometimes conflicting ones. Double agents? Triple agents? Years later each of those poker players are the target of murder and assassination, including the former ambassador to Russia, now a presidential candidate.
There are lots of high tech gadgets, conspiracies, financial wheeling and dealing, and trading of secrets. And of course, murders of those old poker buddies one after another.
What's unusual is that the author of this book is really three men who each have an area of interest and expertise that fitted into the plot of the book. A lot of effort was put into it to be believable especially the financial points about oil exploration and reserves in the Caspian Sea area and many details about Moscow. The effort pays off in a highly entertaining thriller.
Perhaps fuzziness of focus keeps High Hand from being a truly compelling read. With too many secret lives, ties, and lies, the simmering gotcha escapes satisfying comeuppance. The multifarious connections of the poker group get labels and hints for the past but only an indistinct ongoing nexus. Like Qin Sun getting a call but fading purposelessly away, there are too many missed details. We want to know more about the basis for Frank and Lisa's bond because it lacks trustworthy depth. The subterfuge between the two reporters seems so unnaturally contrived that it requires repeated explanation. And we're left without explanation of the ultimately unacceptable perfidy Stuart has been hiding.
Nonetheless, the story holds together and flows logically. There were only two minor typos, and the editing was good. It's readable; its story entertains; and most of all: it deserves and extra ½ ☆ because it's worth some thought.