The second book in the Maggie series opens with an opening—exhumation of the body of a glamorous Russian-born film star, a woman who was both a double agent working for Maggie and a one-time lover of Maggie’s enigmatic boss at the Bureau (that same “dour, mean-spirited,” albeit “devastatingly handsome,” guy). What happens under the watchful eyes of winged marble cherubs, looking down as the crypt is opened, is enough to cause the delicate sculptures to fly off their chiseled perches.
Here is a true international spy story, with intelligence and counterintelligence plots, secrets and tantalizing revelations, assignations and trickery in Prague, St. Petersburg, and in an antique hearse.
The departed, Tanya Langfeld (born Tasya Petrova) was a successful screen actress in Russia when US director Miles Mayheun signed her for a film epic already underway in Hollywood. US audiences immediately embraced the touchingly beautiful, charismatic Tanya and could not get enough of her. Before leaving Moscow, she already was deeply involved with X, chief of the First Directorate of the FSB (formerly the FBI). Once she had become a darling of the detested Americas, he moved in (only emotionally) and convinced her that she should spy for Russia. Easily swayed, she agreed. And then, later, when she met the irresistible (to all females but Maggie) Logan MacLean, he implored her to spy against the detested Russians. The result? Double-agent psychological disconnection.
Enter into the plot a highly respected, popular atmospheric scientist who apparently committed suicide by hurricane, an elderly Chinese widow with all the answers, a dead body in Maggie’s bedroom, and the plot thickens like her perfectly done Vin de Marchand sauce.Exhaustive investigation by the FBI—given jurisdiction in each case—leads nowhere, except to the conclusion that there is no connection between and among the cases. All three end up in cold storage, where they remain until, nine years later, they land on the desk of Special Agent Maggie Sachet.
Lighting a fire under the cold cases is Adrianna Bell, a tough investigative journalist determined to find a conspiracy behind the murders, prove that the FBI bungled its original investigations, and write a sizzling “ten-year-later” denunciation of the Bureau. Maggie begins a review of the cases and finds only one common factor involved—each of the victims had a list of enemies to rival the Manhattan telephone directory. This pleases her boss, Logan MacLean, an ill-tempered (but devastatingly handsome) Scot, who tells her to do a “quick and dirty” investigation, find not a single shred of evidence of a conspiracy, and exonerate the Bureau.
What begins as an uneasy, suspicious relationship between Maggie and the mysterious, difficult Adriana, develops into something else—a cautious, but friendly working arrangement with a lively spirit of competition. And great sadness.
Maggie’s investigation has more twists and surprises than a Mediterranean pasta salad. Intriguing and conflicting clues begin to surface, leading her back and forth across the country as the cold cases heat up, to a temperature that reaches the danger point. Life and death danger. Now, and not nine years ago.
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