Have you ever thought about teaching abroad? Where would you go? In a country torn apart by corruption and violence, the idealistic Scottish author takes up a teaching post in an English language school in Ukraine circa 1996 determined to make a difference. Through a series of interconnected stories of deceit, betrayal, love and loneliness before the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan, the author encounters the people of Lviv in a time and place, though harsh, filled with romance, humour, and hope for the future.
This thriller begins as a story about Ukrainians intending to enact horrific revenge against Russia using a huge hydrogen bomb but melds into a dark more twisted story of unimaginable personal greed and malevolence.
In 1961 Russia built and exploded the biggest thermonuclear weapon in the world, a monster 58 Megaton bomb, over 3000 times larger than the bombs that blew up Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For ongoing bragging rights, the Russians secretly built two of these bombs and stored the second one at a nuclear storage facility where it remained safe and virtually forgotten for 28 years.
In 1989 Ukrainian conscripts stationed at the facility, accidentally find the arming codes and decide to steal the big bomb and destroy Moscow. Their motivation for doing this was to pay back Russia for the long list of horrific abuses and suffering that Ukraine had endured over the years under them (Holodomor, Chernobyl, etc.) and secondarily for their own harsh treatment while in the Russian Army.
Although the conscripts amazingly are successful in acquiring the bomb, They, unfortunately, are not able to detonate it. Having to abandon the effort, they successfully hide the weapon. Two years later, when the Soviet Union fell all the conspirators immigrate to the USA.
In 2022 the successor to our 45th President signs a new Salt agreement with Russia and during the process of publicly dismantling some of the other bombs in Russia they discover to their horror that the old giant bomb is missing.
After a lengthy and thorough, investigation, the Russian GRU and FSB determine the theft was over thirty years ago and that the conspirators were Ukrainian conscripts who had since immigrated to the USA.
To assist their investigation in finding the bomb, President Putin calls our President and request the help of the FBI to locate the criminals in the USA.
At the President’s request, the FBI assigns a top field agent, Peter Kanowsky, who is of Ukrainian descent, to oversee the search team in the USA.
Unfortunately, during his investigation, Peter not only learns the location of the bomb and how to set it off, but he is also turned mentally and emotionally by his repeated exposure to hearing the litany of the horrific suffering that Russia has imposed upon Ukraine.
Yielding to the persuasive coercion from these emigres he interviewed, and the encouragement of his own family, Peter ultimately decides it is his duty and obligation to his Ukrainian ancestry to go to Russia and personally set off the bomb.
Did he succeed, and did he have any help? Surprisingly he has almost too much help as unknowingly to him; his plans mesh almost perfectly with the machinations of an ongoing high-level Russian plot.
What was different about their plan versus his? He wants to set off the bomb immediately, and they want him to wait three months for the perfect time, during the massive celebration in Moscow of Putin’s 70th birthday to make sure every one of importance is in town.
With the help of Anna, a beautiful and sexy Ukrainian lady to keep him happy, they persuade him to wait.
So – what happens then? You will have to read the novel to find out. Maybe the ending is, “Happy Birthday President Putin from Ukraine” or maybe not?
A follow-on novel “Despot” is planned for release in 2Q19.