Monday, August 22, 2011


By Neil Russell

Two gruesome murders, a billionaire with seemingly scores of contacts, the FBI, Chinese jade tigers, and an historical tale of the hunting and transportation of live tigers…all before page fifty. With Russell’s latest book, this is the beginning of a complex mystery with a slew of interesting, witty, and sometimes dangerous characters coming out of the woodwork at every turn. This one…well, it’ll drive you wild.

Billionaire and ex Delta Force operative Rail Black (isn’t that just a great name?)is called to a California desert town to witness the scene of a gruesome pair of murders. The victims are a police buddy and his Chinese wife. Black is asked by an LAPD Deputy Chief to make sure the murders stay hushed up. Almost immediately afterward, a tough, no-nonsense Special Agent in Charge from the FBI shows up demanding to know what’s going on and how Black is involved. From then readers learn some history, mainly involving

Ensign Fabian Canada on a mission in World War II. He’s supposed to be rescuing some downed pilots in China, but winds up saving a baby. This is the spark initiating an operation lasting decades…until it gets out of control and two people are heinously murdered in the California desert.

This is a very intricate plot and even the above paragraph doesn’t begin to cover it. The tendrils of connections are numerous and sometimes I found it difficult to keep everything straight. Still a very well thought out story.

Rail Black: Billionaire. Ex-Delta force operative. Begins the story driving a Rolls Royce.

Yes, there are other characters in this story. A LOT of characters. From the tough and cold FBI agent to cynical lawyer. From the racehorse gal to the Washington manipulator. From the Vegas casino host to guys named Fat Cat and Wal-Mart. Each character, from the minor ones to the recurring ones is very succinctly detailed and all play a role in the story. Nobody is a throwaway character. Again, and I have to repeat, very well developed characters.

Like the characters, very well developed. Black is cynical but can turn serious on a dime. The reader is never confused as to who is speaking. There are long explanations, but nowhere does the reader want the speaker to hurry things along.

Very intelligent. If you read the author’s bio you will find the man similarly so. Russell himself has gobs of connections and loads of knowledge. A few books could be written just on this man’s years of experience. The action and the humor are enjoyable. The details of the murder and some of the violence are not so graphic you are repulsed, but enough is there you know the score. I did find, however, several misspellings. Not enough to truly detract from the reader’s enjoyment, but enough to wonder if his editor hurried a bit at times.

My ranking:

Brown Belt

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