Valery Bochkov

Trilogy Part 1 Charon
Political thriller. AST. Moscow 2016. 318 pages.
Awards: 2016 Ernest Hemingway Award, Canada
Foreign rights: Insignis/ Poland

The hero of the novel, Nick, was born in Russia but grew up in a horrific orphanage. Fortunately, he was adopted and raised in America by a loving American family. Nick thrived and when he was old enough he joined the US military and became a member of the elite Navy Seals. His anonymity is compromised following one of his successful missions - the assassination of a vicious terrorist leader - inciting a group of jihadi extremists to place a million-dollar bounty on his head for anyone who succeeds in killing him.

The US government offers to place him and his family in the Witness Protection Program but, based on his familiarity with this enemy, he feels that the best way to survive and keep his family safe is to take matters into his own hands. He sends his family to a safe house in California, while he heads to a remote location in Vermont. The jihadists who want him dead are part of a vast network and Nick knows that it’s only a matter of time before they find him.

He is eventually found, but not by the jihadi warriors he is expecting. A wealthy Russian woman, Anna, the 3rd richest oligarch in Russia, appears on his doorstep one day with a personal agenda and vast resources to get what she wants. Anna uses her knowledge of the whereabouts of Nick's beloved family to blackmail him to do her bidding. She wants Nick to eliminate a Russian political leader who stands in her way. While Nick has no personal stake in Russian politics, he has no choice but to give in to Anna's demands. He loves his family and he knows Anna is too dangerous of an enemy to refuse.

Eventually, the target of Anna's plan is revealed to be the Russian President. While preparing his operation Nick studies the history and back-story of his target. How did a mediocre civil servant end up with so much power and feared by so many? How does he think and what are his weaknesses? The reader gets an insider's view of the Kremlin and the dangerous games of the powerful and the corrupt. While learning about the President and the inner workings of his criminal government, Nick is also faced with certain revelations and realizations about his own past. All is not as it seems.

As the operation advances, Nick hires a team to help him. Money is no object and Nick puts together an A-Team of thirty professional commandos who are unmatched in their special talents. They use a private Mediterranean island, owned by Anna, as their training ground. Three months of intensive training and the team is ready to act. The action of the operation is the culmination of the novel: Nick’s plan is successful, his little army ambushes the President’s country villa and the President is kidnapped. Nick and the President fly away in a helicopter to deliver the President to Anna. But Nick is a professional and knows the way this game is played – he is no longer needed and will certainly be killed. He jumps . . .