The Russian Science of Deception

Fiction - Thriller - Espionage
398 Pages
Reviewed on 07/03/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Maskirovka: The Russian Science of Deception by Richard Meredith is a crime thriller anchored by protagonist Steve Nguyen's first solo homicide investigation as a Vietnamese-American detective in the San Francisco Police Department. Nguyen, a Stanford Law school dropout, digs deep into the enigmatic death of Luke Miller, a young accountant at The Glass Foundation, a public interest organization with clandestine ties to the U.S. Senate. Nguyen's probes unearth a sinister alliance involving a Russian oligarch, the foundation's deceitful executive director, and a prominent philanthropist aiming to bolster Russia's control of the European energy market. Aided by his lawyer cousin Tina and computer geek Tommy, Nguyen navigates illicit offshore accounts, shell corporations, and deadly Russian assassins, while contending with the possible corruption of the American electoral system. As this plays out, the foundation's HR head and Miller's friend, Jennifer Krauss, becomes embroiled in the investigation with her personal and professional life under threat from powerful international forces.

Richard Meredith seriously delivers the goods in Maskirovka through his ability to wrap up an intense investigation and the personalities and motivations of the characters who circle around it exceptionally well. The alternating points of view in a teasing third-person limited and descriptions that create lucid visuals elevate the whole experience. These range from San Francisco and Sonoma County to small spaces like Jennifer's apartment, where an intimate encounter and playful banter create both spatial and conversational realism. Meredith's skill in striking a perfect balance between intensity and buoyancy is on display. At a restaurant Agent Jack Knolls, Steve Nguyen, and Tina Ngo discuss the specialties of the house and, in almost the same breath, Russian connections, death, and intentional arson. I mean, we all have to eat, right? The best, best, best part of everything that Maskirovka gave me as a reader who is Asian are the strong, authentic characters that I can identify with. It shouldn't come as a shock that these are a rarity and when all these are tied together, Meredith's footprint in the crime fiction genre is assured. Very highly recommended.