Sunday, September 9, 2012

James Houston Turner Has A Winner in Greco's Game!

English: Book by Gioachino Greco (c. 1600 – c....
English: Book by Gioachino Greco
(c. 1600 – c. 1634) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Agent Foley kept complaining about being locked in  trunk of car, so I could not hear very much. But I did hear them laugh and say, 'Shah i mat!'"
"Checkmate," said Talanov, translating... "Many of us in the KGB were chess fanatics,"explained Talanov. "Ilya was, and I was, but I'm not sure about Borzakov. I don't remember him in any of the classes."...We studied the strategy of chess," answered Talanov, "and were graded, secretly, by the great Mikhail Botvinnik...
"Greco's Game!" said Larisa, "They mentioned Greco's Game--Greko igry..."
Greco's Game:
 Redemption at
 a Price

By James Houston Turner

If you are a chess enthusiast, then you probably already knew about Gioachino Greco, I had not. I also didn't know that the Soviet Union had been so involved with playing chess that they often used chess terms just like Americans use football or other sports terms as they converse with others. So, aside from the storyline, I thoroughly enjoyed the interweaving of chess terms that probably were contained in the classic book by Greco published as early as 1625. Not being a chess player, I had to just follow the clues and see if I could figure out what was happening in this exciting and sometimes terrifying second novel in the Aleksandr Talanov series.

Terrifying, because the very first thing that happens is that Andrea, his wife is murdered!

Welll, we also meet Tash as Talanov remembers his night before... "He could still see Tash jumping from the bed... contemptuous at his inability to "do it." That, of course, was not surprising if you had read  Department Thirteen. Talanov had been taught not to allow love into his life during his time with the KGB. Now he was not only feeling guilty for never being able to truly commit to Andrea, but his guilt increased because he felt Andrea had been killed instead of him!

Tash was now gone, but so was his wallet, money and watch! He got dressed and quickly went back to the bar where they had met, but had a hard time getting back in. Let me just say that Talanov did his thing and soon was sitting down across from Tash...

Then an interesting thing happened, besides the fighting, etc...

Tash was touched greatly when Talanov refused her return of his money, explaining that he wanted his only picture of his wife that was in the wallet. Women readers will quickly realize that Talanov now had another woman setting her eyes and desires on Talanov, while most men were probably calling Talanov stupid for leaving the $2 thousand laying on the table...Right?

But Talanov was not going to be able to leave the bar to get his wallet...and soon was passed out being taken to the hospital, where he knew to "play dead" from interacting with the doctors. So when Tash and her friend made the decision to return his wallet with the picture, she was there driving up outside when Talanov escaped, still wearing the hospital gown that left him, ahhh, exposed...

I admit that Turner's decision to write on human trafficking, especially young girls, got my attention quickly and personally. It's a deplorable world that we live in where there is more "money" in this than other criminal activities! While I love mystery, suspense and other thriller books, I really would like to believe it was only happening in books! So I applaud whenever an author centers in on exposing this horrendous activity!

But, of course, we who have already "fallen" for Talanov as a hero extraordinaire, know that he will do much to stop trafficking, especially out of the Soviet Union countries. He had long been exposed to what that government had become--he was not about to allow the many former KGB men who had now become part of mafia activities, to hurt the people he had once fought to help!

Talanov quickly learned from Tash that there were many more young girls who had been lied to in coming to America and then being forced into prostitution. Tash, whose real name was Larisa had been a nurse and quickly put her skills into helping Talanov get back to better health... Then, as well, gave him much more...

Quickly thereafter, Talanov began facing the men behind the human trafficking. But it was not easy--there was no way to know who was involved! It had been years since he had relocated and men who he'd known through the KGB at that time, might now play a far different role! Let Talanov take you into the Russian Mafia like only James Houston Turner can, mostly based upon his acting as a smuggler and carrier during the Cold War. The reality may parallel much of what you read in the newspapers, but nobody can tell it like Turner, "the King of the Cliffhanger" as Glenda Shaw said... (Of course, I had to get that quote from the back cover) in here...there are so few Glenda's out there! LOL

This soft-spoken man, now living in Australia, has shared with me that he may be moving back to America! Here's one new fan that things that it would be soooo cool to once again claim him as one of our finest writers here in the U.S.


A Native of Kansas, James turned to writing fiction as a result of his years as a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain. He has been on a KGB watchlist, organized secret midnight meetings with informants, located hidden mountain bunkers, and investigated legends of forgotten tunnels beneath the cobblestones and bricks of some of Central Europe's most venerated cathedrals.

A former journalist in Los Angeles, he holds a Bachelor's Degree from Baker University and a Master's Degree from the University of Houston - Clear Lake. He and his wife, Wendy, a former triathlon winner, live in Adelaide, South Australia.

I especially enjoyed Turner's "James"page on his web Site and thought my other readers would enjoy this quote:
As a journalist in Los Angeles,  he interviewed numerous inner-city residents of the famed Union Rescue Mission. Over 130 of his stories were published in their magazine, Lifeline. During this time, he also attended two National Prayer Breakfasts with the President of the United States and members of Congress, yet at other times found himself so poor he had to live on jars of peanut butter given to him by a church.

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  1. Glenda, I really am honored with your review. THANK YOU! I just now finished a 3:45am radio interview to then REALLY have my eyelids snap open with your gracious words. Thank you so very much. There will be no way I can get any sleep today!

  2. Haven't read it yet--which no doubt causes James to shake his head ruefully--but I am looking forward to the chess stuff, even though I haven't played since i was a teen. And congratulations on the scoop! This is the first I heard of Mr. Turner coming to the States. . . perhaps he was offered a writing job on NCIS: Los Angeles! ;o)

  3. James...

    I rarely say anything I don't mean, based upon the human I find behind the many books I read... I would love to hear more about your own life...and meet Talanov again and again. I've already ordered your other book, without Talanov, so will let you know my thoughts on that one, since I'm so hooked on Talanov! May your book tour be sooooo successful that you won't sleep, but just simmer in happiness!


  4. Paul! So happy to have you comment! Now I won't say that you'll find enough "chess" to fulfill your needs since I don't play...but if Talanov's moves are strategically thought out because of his training of chess, along with others, then it surely shows in his actions! But I think you will thoroughly enjoy the "hunt" in the book!

    Hey, not a bad idea about NCIS LA...Jim knows LL Cool sooooo, next time I see him...oops, my only contact is with the great show...but given his books, I can easily see James Houston Turner writing script--maybe Talanov can become a citizen after all???

    Best, G

    1. As long as he doesn't have Talanov having an affair with MY Kenzi, I'm all for it! ;o)

      Hmmm, I just realized I've never asked James how he feels about Sherlock Holmes; I just blogged my favorite stories and I'll bet his would be completely different!

      Enjoy your reading!