Author: Mike Wells
In his recent tome, Lust, Money & Murder (Book 5)-On Russian Soil Mike Wells proves that he has quite an imagination with the ability to create a bang-up thriller as well as a diverse cast of characters.
Secret service agent, Elaine Brogan is assigned by the head of the U.S. Secret Services Operations in Europe, Raj Malik, to travel to Russia and pose as a member of the FBI Art Crime Team under the assumed name of Janet Bailey. She is to pretend to help the Russians solve a case pertaining to a devious and evil criminal, Giorgio Cattoretti. And get this, Cattoretti has pulled off the largest art heist in history, the spectacular theft of 15 Picasso paintings from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
From her past experiences with Cattoretti, Elaine is quite aware how his mind works and how he would react in variety of situations. Nonetheless, she could not imagine facing this beast once again whose path she previously crossed and who had beaten her, raped her, tried to strangle her, and to throw her over a cliff. As a result, she had desperately plunged a letter opener into his eye causing him to become blind in one eye.
While feigning to help the Russians capture Cattoretti, Elaine is also given the nasty undertaking of luring Cattoretti out of Russia into either Latvia or Lithuania where he could be extradited to the USA as no extradition treaty existed between the USA and Russia.
The reason why Raj was so interested in getting his hands on Cattoretti was that there was a “mole” inside the KBA Giori factory in Germany that had never been found. Evidently, this company manufactured all the printing presses used to print American money, and over the past fifty years the USA became totally dependent on the company. A spy still employed somewhere inside the Germany factory posed a serious security risk. It was this individual that had helped Cattoretti steal the intaglio press in its Milan counterfeiting operation.
The German police and Interpol had conducted several investigations but came up with nothing and Cattoretti still remains on the loose. Raj knew if he could get his hands on Cattoretti he would offer him a plea bargain if he would divulge the name of his accomplice.
After some hesitancy, Elaine accepts the assignment and travels to Russia where she meets up with Inspector Sergei Amperov, known as the “Sherlock Holmes” of the art crime field and who reluctantly accepts her after he and his team treat her as being nothing more than a joke. She also meets an old trusted acquaintance, Dmitry, who is to be her driver in Russia and who will play a vital role in her quest to trap Cattoretti.
As this chilling yarn unfolds that is propelled by a fluid narrative style laced with troubling undercurrents, the Russians agree to buy back the paintings from Cattoretti. The result is a series of intrigues wherein some of the paintings are recovered but unfortunately Cattoretti turns out to be too crafty for the Russians and succeeds in escaping with millions of rubles.
Wells has fashioned a creative and galvanizing tale that gets its hooks into you and is pretty much impossible to stop reading. In addition, he is not afraid to pull out all the stops, repeatedly blindsiding the reader with shifts in the plot. As for the ending, well you will have to read the book to see what happens.