Secrets in a Time of Peace

Fiction - Realistic
248 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2013
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

"Secrets in a Time of Peace" opens slowly on a beautiful sunny morning in Islamabad, Pakistan, in the garden of General Masharif, who is a suspected supporter of a jihad movement of Islam. He is having breakfast with his guests that include retired General Igor Belinsky of Russia, Prince Ali Hussein Al Saudi and Samiel Bin Laden of Saudi Arabia, and Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. What follows is a fascinating story that is set after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which effectively ended the Cold War. It has been discovered that plutonium bombs from Russia's arsenal are missing and it is feared that the wrong countries or terrorist groups will get hold of these weapons of mass destruction. The United States of America, Russia, China and Israel go into a concerted effort to trace these bombs that are so portable that they can fit in a suitcase. As terrorism grips the world, the mission is considered as top secret to prevent the general population from going into panic. Will they be able to find these nuclear bombs and prevent the horrors that will certainly happen if they fall into the the wrong hands?

Robert Shaines is a practicing lawyer who was also a contractor for the Defense Nuclear Agency in the US. He also worked in Russia on the Cooperative Threat Reduction Treaty from 1993 to 1996. This is why his book "Secrets in a Time of Peace" is a historical fiction that might have actually happened. As an insider, the author is well versed in his subject but it is his writing style that makes the story more vivid and real. The plot builds up slowly and the characters are well-developed. There seems to be a rhythm that goes with the narrative. Like a Mozart concerto, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride that is sometimes slow and sometimes frantic. As the book traces the efforts of four countries, United States, Russia, China and Israel, to find the missing nuclear bombs and keep them out of terrorist hands, the reader is faced with the real terror and the urgency of the situation. This is because Shaines is a master story teller who knows exactly what he is talking about so that after reading the book, I am convinced that this scenario might just as well be happening right now. All the elements of a blockbuster historical fiction is here: a gripping plot, compelling characters and a master story teller.

Kathryn Bennett

"Secrets in a Time of Peace" by Robert A. Shaines takes us into the often muddled and yet riveting world of nuclear warfare. The main players in this game are of course the United States, China, Russia and Israel, countries that were often at odds with one another. Soon after the disintegration of the Soviet Union it was discovered that 68 plutonium bombs were missing from the nuclear program. The story that Robert A. Shaines has created follows the efforts of several nations to secure the missing bombs before a world wide panic starts.

This is a great story that focuses on a period of time that was dramatic in its own right. The history of the collapse of the Soviet Union is well documented and you can tell that Robert A. Shaines did his research when working on this book. The story of the novel flows well and the characters are very intense and deep. When I read a drama I want it to be very dramatic and "Secrets in a Time of Peace" met my expectations for drama. I found myself almost biting my nails several times. The prose is well-presented and the flow of the story is really good. There were some twists that I didn't see coming and found very enjoyable. I would recommend this book to any reader who loves a good drama, not only on a dramatic level but as something that is obviously well-researched and presented perfectly. "Secrets in a Time of Peace" by Robert Shaines hits every one of my boxes for a must read book.

Jack Magnus

In "Secrets in a Time of Peace", Robert A. Shaines uses his real-life experience as an attorney in Russia in the years after the breakup of the Soviet Union to craft a realistic novel focusing on the combined efforts of the United States, Russia and other concerned countries to get some control over the Russian arsenal stockpile. His main characters are two young generals, one Russian and the other American, whose friendship is taxed as they engage in a desperate search for the missing plutonium bombs called "suitcase bombs" for their small size and portability. Their search leads them to the Lubyanka in Russia, Jerusalem and the middle East and across the globe as they coordinate their efforts with other terrorist-fighting agencies and a general-turned-arms broker.

This is an exciting thriller, made even more so by the historical veracity brought to bear by the author's knowledge and expertise. The American general Diamond and his Russian counterpart Medvedev are finely drawn characters who are stunned by the immediacy and scope of their task. They bring together an international team whose sole aim is to locate these devices and get them before any terrorist organizations or countries obtain them for their own uses. "Secrets in a Time of Peace" is a fascinating read that has real life implications. It gives the reader a little-known look at the aftereffects of the Cold War in Russia as well as a history of the KGB and other Russian Governmental entities both before and after the breakup. I'll be watching for other new novels by Shaines.