Inspired by the actual KGB informant who leaked word out of Moscow that James was on a KGB watchlist, former KGB informant, Aleksandr Talanov has become James Houston Turner's signature protagonist in the Talanov Thriller Series. He made his debut in Comfort Publishing's 2011 bestseller, Department Thirteen.
NAME: Aleksandr "Alex" Mikhailevich Talanov
KGB RANK: ColonelDATE OF BIRTH: February 04, 1958
Since his youth, Talanov was destined to be part of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti -- the Committee for State Security -- or the internal security and foreign intelligence agency of the old Soviet Union. His father, Mikhail Ivanevich Talanov, was reportedly killed when he was an infant, with his addict mother, Nina, dying from a narcotics overdose when he was four. Alex was subsequently handed over to his elderly maternal grandparents, who lived in a ninth floor Moscow flat. The grandparents, however, couldn't cope, so he was turned over to State minders, who immediately noticed his athletic and educational abilities and placed him in the Komsomol -- the Communist Youth Organization -- where he would be taught the fighting and philosophical skills needed to advance him to the KGB. It was here that he was taught Combat Sambo, where he rose to the rank of Black Belt, his instructor preferring the traditional belt system of rating over the cumbersome "razryad" system most sambists employed. It was also here that he learned how love was a weakness and vulnerability that an enemy could exploit. It was here, at age sixteen, that he became known as Ledyanoĭ chelovek -- the “ice man” -- cold, calculating, charming and capable, yet possessing an unusual idealism about fairness, which his minders fed with Communist propaganda about the evils and decadence of the West.
Feeding on their words like a carnivore feeds on flesh, Talanov was rewarded with entrance into the Surveillance College in Leningrad, where his achievements resulted in an appointment to the analysis section of Directorate 7 (responsible for the monitoring of Soviet nationals and foreigners). His contributions in the area of surveillance and security soon led to a promotion to Directorate 9 (the KGB Protection Service, which included the 40,000-man uniformed bodyguard for Party leaders and families, as well as the protection of government installations, especially those containing nuclear weapons). In Directorate 9, he was mentored by the great Dimitri Lazovic, who chose him to coordinate the physical protection of Party leadership. It was here that Talanov came to the attention of Yuri Andropov, whose appreciation for saving his life resulted in his being selected for the Moscow State Institute for International Relations. After graduating, he was promoted to the rank of colonel -- the youngest in KGB history -- and assigned to The First Chief Directorate, which was responsible for foreign espionage and KGB operations abroad. Segmented into eleven geographical regions, the First Chief Directorate saw to the placement of intelligence officers in legal positions in embassies and elsewhere abroad. Talanov oversaw those assignments as well as provided analytical support to various sub-directorates and services, as well as personal assistance to Andropov on a number of secret assignments.
Talanov was not sure when the cracks began to appear, but appear they did in Department Thirteen:
"Why did we get married?" Andrea asked.
"What do you mean?"
She turned toward him. "You romanced me like there was no tomorrow, and we end up having this fabulous whirlwind marriage. But that's as far as it went."
Talanov did not reply.
"We're little more than strangers, Alex. And you seem happy to keep it that way."
"I think you're overreacting."
"People are trying to kill us! And you think I'm overreacting? Talk to me, Alex."
Talanov massaged a dull ache in his forehead. The pressure was getting to him.
"Tell me about your world," she said.
"Are you sure you want to hear this?"
"I think it's time, don't you?"
After working a pillow into place, Talanov settled back and for half an hour explained
how the KGB had trained assassins, terrorists, and deep cover agents at its Balashikha complex, near Moscow. "Communism on paper is what attracted my idealistic hopes: equality for all, freedom from oppression...that sort of thing. But over time, I became aware of all the things I had not been taught: that communism outside the classroom was really state capitalism ...the government's elite taking from others what they wanted for themselves. It's why communism can never work, and why I began helping the CIA bring it down...not that anyone in Washington cared."
"You sound cynical."
"I am. Trouble is, there are men out there with guns for whom these lofty ideals don't
matter one bit."
"It appears they matter a great deal. The question is, why?"
Talanov's disillusionment led him to become November Echo, the legendary KGB deep cover informant who supplied the CIA with intelligence on KGBactivities during the Cold War. For his service over the course of several years, Talanov was paid US $1.3 million by William Erasmus "Bill" Wilcox -- codename La Tâche -- the CIA branch chief in the American Embassy, in London. Talanov quietly invested the money in offshore accounts, thus enabling him to settle in Australia at the end of the Cold War as a multi-millionaire. It was in Australia that he met and married Andrea, who was the owner of Elegant Cuisine, a catering company, although his inability to return his wife's love was the cause of many problems. The couple lived in the swank Sydney suburb of Mosman until killers firebombed his house and burned it down. Within months of those events (chronicled in Department Thirteen), Talanov convinced his wife to move with him to Los Angeles in an attempt to find anonymity and peace (Greco's Game). Tragically, that peace was short-lived.
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