Thriller / Suspense / Action / Romance
Date Published: November 1, 2017
Colonel Aleksandr Talanov – the “ice man” – is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can’t, and it’s an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.
Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.
But in the seedy world of human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, Larisa made the mistake of stealing the ice man’s wallet. In it was Talanov’s sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin’s bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. Or was it a mistake?
The answer lies in Greco’s Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov’s old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?
Talanov took another calming breath. This one was not as effective. “I’m not looking for trouble,” he began.
“Then get the hell out of here. Or trouble is going to find you.” According to Gunner, the choice was simple. Leave voluntarily or leave forcibly. And it didn’t seem to matter to Gunner which choice Talanov made.
For Talanov the choice was like-wise simple. Was his wallet worth a fight? Logic told him to either forget the wallet or try and work things out peacefully.
He opted for option number two. After all, Gunner was a big guy. He was also twenty, maybe twenty-five years younger. Besides, what were the odds that Tash was inside? His wallet had had nearly two thousand dollars in it. More than likely, Tash was partying someplace else.
Talanov looked at the other bouncer, who was staring at him with unfriendly eyes. The groupies were also watching. Everybody was waiting to see what the old guy was going to do. “Don’t make this worse than it is,” he said. “Ten minutes. Then I’m gone.”
There was a long moment of silence, almost like a vacuum. Nobody seemed to breathe. Then Gunner’s arms shot forward, the heels of his hands like battering rams aimed straight for Talanov’s chest. It was a preemptive two-handed blow designed to knock the wind out of Talanov and send him flying into the bushes. A lesson about who was boss.
But Gunner had made the mistake of broadcasting his intentions with a number of subliminal signals. Flaring of the nostrils, tightening of the lips, setting of the jaw, the drawing in of a breath and holding it. So when Gunner’s hands shot out, Talanov stepped to the side, grabbed Gunner’s wrist and twisted it down and back. This forced Gunner to compensate by straightening his arm and bending left in an effort to pull away. That allowed Talanov to twist the outstretched arm behind Gunner. He then used Gunner’s momentum to drive him facedown to the sidewalk in one smooth motion. The whole maneuver took less than four seconds.
Kneeling on Gunner’s back, Talanov lifted the arm in a direction that could easily pop it from the socket. Gunner cried out and Talanov eased off.
“I asked you not to make this worse than it is,” Talanov said, glancing at Gunner then up at Daz. “What’s it going to be?” Daz glared angrily down at Talanov but knew better than to try anything with Gunner’s arms bent backward like that.
Talanov raised an eyebrow expectantly.
Ten minutes,” growled Daz. “But if you cause anyone any trouble – and I mean, anyone – I guarantee you won’t be leaving in one piece.”
Releasing Gunner’s arm, Talanov glanced at Tracy and stood. And with a hint of a smile, he disappeared inside.
James Houston Turner is the bestselling author of the Aleksandr Talanov thriller series, as well as numerous other books and articles. Talanov the fictional character was inspired by the actual KGB agent who once leaked word out of Moscow that James was on a KGB watch-list for his smuggling activities behind the old Iron Curtain. James Houston Turner’s debut thriller, DEPARTMENT THIRTEEN, was voted “Best Thriller” by USA Book News, after which it won gold medals in the Independent Publisher (“IPPY”) Book Awards and the Indie Book Awards. His novel, GRECO'S GAME has just been optioned for film. A cancer survivor of more than twenty-five years, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Baker University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston (Clear Lake). After twenty years in Australia, he and his wife, Wendy, author of THE RECIPE GAL COOKBOOK, now live in Austin, Texas.
Mill Pond #6
Mill Pond, Indiana, neighbors always look out for each other. And
even though tourists are drawn to the small town’s charms, it’s
the locals who fill it with warmth . . .
nurse Karli Redding doesn’t have many fond memories of her aging
grandfather, Axel—or of Mill Pond. But with Axel’s health in
decline and Karli on a month’s hiatus between jobs, she volunteers
to set him up with the help he needs. The house and her grandfather
could both use some TLC. Good thing Keagan Monroe, the very
attractive mailman next door, is always ready to lend a hand…
a lot slips by a mailman, and Keagan appreciates Karli’s dogged
attempts to spruce up the neglected property. Painting, fixing the
sagging porch, delivering a constant stream of casseroles from caring
neighbors—he’ll help however he can, all while keeping his
feelings under wraps. A short-term fling just doesn’t fit into his
schedule. But with each passing day, Karli’s bond with the town
grows a little deeper. Has fate sent her exactly where she needs to
be? Karli’s willing to find out, and the first step is figuring out
the perfect route to Keagan’s heart…
She was eating at the wooden table in the kitchen with the oven on, soaking in the heat, when a mouse ran over her foot.
“Holy crap!” She wouldn’t let herself jump on a chair. She was a grown woman, and she wouldn’t scream over a mouse. But she wanted to.
“You okay?” Words she never thought she’d hear Axel utter.
“A mouse just ran over my foot.”
He grunted. “Yeah, they come in about this time of year when it gets cold outside.”
She walked to the door to talk to him. “How do you catch them?”
“There are some traps in the broom closet.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I’m not going around the house to collect little dead bodies.”
She frowned at him. “There must be something else.”
“Mice leave when there’s a cat in a house, but when you leave, you take the damned thing with you.”
“I don’t want a cat.”
“Then kill the mice or start naming them.”
She glowered toward Kurt. “Mice are a man’s job. He should deal with them.”
Kurt finished a beer and swiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. “They don’t bother me.”
“They’re disgusting. They spread disease and multiply faster than rabbits.”
He shrugged. “They don’t eat that much. Put some cheese out for them.”
She turned and stalked back to the kitchen. The idiots! She wasn’t about to start every day by sweeping away mouse turds.
GUEST POST BY JUDI LYNN
In my sixth romance, SPECIAL DELIVERY
, Karli Redding, a travelling nurse, volunteers to go to Mill Pond to arrange health care for her grandfather. My daughter’s a travelling nurse, so it was fun making Karli one, too. My daughter’s dealt with many an uncooperative patient, and I could hear her bantering with Axel.
Mill Pond’s mailman, Keagan Monroe—who’s easy on the eyes--let Karli’s mother know that Axel shouldn’t live alone anymore. Keagan’s been dropping off cottage cheese, Ensure, and applesauce and keeping an eye on him, but he’s found the stove on three times when he stops by. The problem is that Axel is of sound mind and as spiteful as ever, so refuses to cooperate with any fixes Karli finds for him. He keeps telling her that one or more of his twelve children will come to care for him, hoping he’ll croak soon and leave them all of his money.
Karli has a month off between nursing jobs, so she decides to stay with him until someone shows up. Working in a hospital is not like living with a patient. Axel can be a real pain. I loved both of my grandmothers, but they didn’t grow warm and fuzzy when they got old. They got more demanding. Karli cooks for Axel and tries to get him to move more to build up strength. That’s when she learns that Axel…and the hunky mailman she begins to lust over…can both be had with food. There’s a lot of food in this book. A reviewer warned not to read this when you’re hungry. Probably because I love to cook for friends and family.
I also have a love of old houses, and Axel’s house has great bones, but no one’s taken care of it for decades. Karli can’t stand seeing such a beautiful house in such bad shape. If she has to look at it every day, she might as well clean it. And once she does that, she decides to paint some of the rooms. Keagan loves the house, too, and pitches in. The old house and the old man start to shape up. And Karli realizes, the more she works on the house, the more Keagan’s underfoot. A win/win ☺
received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary
school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st,
2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters.
She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.
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