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Review: Rasputin’s Shadow, by Raymond Khoury 2014

Open the front cover and there is the theme of the novel. In big block letters it says, “Darkness never dies.” In Khoury’s novel the darkness starts with the evil monk Rasputin and flows right on to the 20th century, with no sign of stopping there.
Rasputin, as we know, was a pretty bad guy. There is sufficient information in the book to establish this beyond a doubt, and Khoury says it is all historically accurate. But he inserts a character into Rasputin’s life that is his own invention and which provides the genesis of everything that follows.
The extra cast member is Misha, a scientific kind of guy who has invented a machine that alters a person’s behaviour, without them knowing. On low power, it sends out sound waves that makes everyone nearby become quite docile. One step up and they become nauseous. Hit the high power and they all turn into rampaging killers.
Rasputin has plans for the top setting, but meets his demise before putting his plan into action. Misha, overcome with guilt and remorse for simply having invented the infernal contraption, gets rid of it. But he can’t resist the temptation to write a journal. Contained therein are sufficient scraps of information about the machine that his grandson, a scientific genius, is able to build a new and even better one.
That’s when the evil moves into the 20th century. Sokolov, the grandson, also has reservations about allowing the machine to fall into the hands of anyone but himself. Having moved to the United States and establishing himself as a mild-mannered teacher, he keeps the machine tucked away in a storage unit.
But then he gets careless and the Russians find him. They want him and they want the machine. The U.S government wouldn’t mind getting it either. There is a great deal of research that has been going on for some time in both countries regarding mind control and the machine would be a major breakthrough.
So the chase begins. Khoury keeps it moving and the book is a good read. There is also a sub-plot that appears to be on the verge of resolution on the final page, but Khoury just lets it hang there. He may resolve it in a subsequent novel, or he may not. As Fats Waller was fond of saying, “One never knows, do one?”

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