The Magnificent Siberian

Louis Charbonneau, Author
Louis Charbonneau, Author Dutton Books $21.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-55611-422-9
Hardcover - 592 pages - 978-0-7089-3787-7
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One would expect a good read from a novel with the following elements: an idealistic, unsappy young American hero trying to save the few remaining Siberian tigers in their habitat; a brave young Russian woman reporter, who's really a Russian military intelligence agent; and a Russian nationalist official plotting to overthrow the government of president Boris Yeltsin. There's also a coolly efficient ex-KGB assassin with a penchant for collecting body parts as trophies; the title character, a female tiger intent on protecting her cubs and avenging her wounding by the assassin; and various bit players--bureaucrats, the new Russian criminal class, a colorful old game warden and three adorable tiger cubs. But it all adds up to disappointment. The writing is flat and occasionally embarrassing (``He's an apparatchik, what we would call a career bureaucrat''), the pacing pedestrian and the characters barely breathe. It's quite like the attempted coup, a fizzle. Veteran Charbonneau (White Harvest and 35 other novels) has done better. (Apr.)
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