A retired spy drawn back into the espionage game in The Eighth Sister by Robert Dugoni
The Eighth Sister (#1 Jenkins) by Robert Dugoni
Genre: Mystery, Legal Drama
Published 2019, 437 pages
This is the beginning of a new series by a favorite author of mine and it holds great promise. I'll read anything by this author for several reasons - the mysteries are always well plotted, he writes complete characters, he often has a legal component to the stories (because he's a lawyer), and he's a local author (Tacoma, WA). That pretty much checks all my boxes!
It's always fun to me to read books that reference places I've been - it really helps establish a sense of place. This one is set in my home town, Seattle.
"To Jenkins’s left, the Seattle Great Wheel, festively lit in Seahawks blue and green, rotated high above the water. Farther south, the roof of the football stadium glowed purple."
I have to say, spy or espionage stories are not my favorite type of mystery; they often are too political or set in countries where the names are prohibitively difficult. Luckily, The Eighth Sister is neither. Set in what could be current day (the story is that relevant), the 60+ year old retired spy, Charlie, is lured back into his former life because his handler claims they need his expertise on Russia and Charlie's company has business in Moscow, so he has a natural cover. His security company is in financial hardship so he accepts, and things start to go off the rails almost from the beginning.
"Russians had interpreted capitalism to mean: “Steal what you can sell.”
Back and forth to Russia and his spy counterpart there (an entertaining bad guy), glimpses of the modern version of the KGB, enough realistic landmarks in Moscow to make it believable, and a great character in Charlie keep the story interesting and moving along. There are the usual red herrings and questions raised about who to believe and when it all comes apart....who is left holding the bag? Charlie.
The book has two main components - the spy portion where we meet Charlie, get his background, and meet his family, and a bunch of dangerous spy stuff happens. Then, part two is the legal component toward the end of the story. As with most Dugoni books, this is riveting and yet entertaining and we're rooting for Charlie, but it looks pretty grim. I'm certainly not going to give away any spoilers so will not explain any further.
Charlie is definitely the star of this story. His character is SO.....believable. He came to life on the page. Plus I like that the protagonist isn't some thirty-something, but instead is a man of "mature age" with a lifetime of experience. We could use a few more protagonists (male and female) that are older but active and living life to the fullest. Another story I've read and loved that features a mature person is Celine by Peter Heller. She's a 60-something private eye with a heart.
I'll be eagerly awaiting the next installment of this series. If you enjoy excellent writing, plotting, and characters, I'd definitely recommend this book - get started at the beginning of the series!
photos by Terrie Purkey, Seattle and Russia