The Moscow Connection

Robin Moore, Author Affiliated Writers of America/Publishers $20 (498p) ISBN 978-1-879915-11-4
The collapse of communism hasn't eliminated Russia as a setting for novels of suspense and intrigue. Set around the 1991 coup attempt that toppled Mikhail Gorbachev but failed to reassert hardline Communist rule and while leading inadvertently to the collapse of the Soviet Union, this vigorously researched but hamfisted thriller from the author of The French Connection turns on the risk of the Russian mafia stealing and reselling nuclear material and weapons. Just before the failed putsch, master criminal Slava Yakovlev, aka ``the Jap,'' imprisoned in a cell whose bribe-begotten comforts temper its Siberian setting, manipulates his release in order to fend off challenges to his far-flung empire and implement the mother of all crimes. The Jap puts into motion a complicated plan by which his underlings extract brutal revenge on the KGB officers who gang-raped beautiful young Oksana Martinov-whose father is the government official who arranges for the Jap's release. After the collapse of the coup attempt, the now free Moriarity of the Motherland enacts his plan to sell radioactive goods purloined from one of Russia's secret nuclear cities to world terrorists. His machinations, involving the massive counterfeiting of American currency, lead to violence in New York, which draws NYPD Special Investigator Peter Nikhilov, son of a Russian emigre, onto the case. Going undercover in Moscow, Peter falls in love with Oksana-a plot element that's nearly as predictable as the climax, which finds the pair trying to escape from a nuclear facility before a thicket of missiles can blow them to kingdom come. Moore's detailing of the Russian mafia and potential nuclear terrorism are fascinating, but garish storytelling gives his cautionary tale an air of pulpish unreality. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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