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Julie Doe

Conspiracy in Kiev - Noel Hynd The product description describes this book as a "solid, fast-paced espionage thriller". Unfortunately, this book is anything but that.

The first approx. 40% of the book revolves around the main character, FBI Special Agent Alexandra LaDuca, getting ready to travel to Kiev. There is a brief bit of action in Kiev, then another 30% or so of the book is Alex recovering from and dealing with what happened in Kiev. This includes her traveling to Venezuela. There is a brief bit of action after she has been there several weeks, and then there's a final bit of action in France. But that's it. The tension and edge-of-your-seat drama that good thrillers include are conspicuously missing in this book.

The story is also heavily bogged down by long passages about various countries' history, politics, etc., only a small portion of which is necessary for the reader to know to understand the story. The rest struck me as filler. Yes, I'm glad the author researched so carefully, but I don't need to read *all* the research. At one point, I remember thinking, "oh good, now some plot" and then rolled my eyes when the narrative immediately veered off again into background information.

Alex is an interesting character. However, she didn't live up to her billing as a "shrewd investigator". "Connecting the dots" may take "Alex across three continents", but it wasn't she who was doing the connecting. She doesn't play an active role in figuring out anything in this book. She is a pawn. After the events in Kiev, she tries briefly to find out what really happened but is stymied and gives up. After the events in Venezuela, others tell her who was behind the events and why. After the events in Paris, others tell her who was behind the events and why. *sigh* I liked her and wanted her to do something besides be used by others with hidden agendas.

Alex's religiousness also seemed artificial to me, almost as if it was an after-thought, something that was added to the character after the book was already written. There are a few throw-away references to Alex going to church, and she wears a gold cross, although that is more for remembrance than its religious significance. However, she doesn't consciously think about the Bible, and it doesn't actively guide her actions (which is actually fine with me because I don't like in-your-face peachiness that is typical of a lot of "Christian" fiction). The most glaring instance of this is when she thinks about committing suicide because she thinks it would reunite her with her loved ones. Um, isn't committing suicide a sin in Christianity that would prevent one from entering heaven? Not once during that whole thought process, do I remember her thinking, "Wait, Christianity says this is wrong."

One other annoyance is that every single bit of dialogue in French, Spanish, or Russian was also repeated in English in the narrative...including such common phrases as "dos vedanya" (spelled differently in the book) and "donde". Granted, some of the translation was necessary, but translating foreign words and phrases that 99% of your readers are going to recognize made the text seem dumbed down.

Finally, the ending was a bit of a let down. The immediate threat to Alex is dealt with, but the larger threat (that all the bad guys haven't been caught) is apparently ignored and she goes on her merry way. Huh? I know this is the first of a trilogy so the story will continue in the next book, but the abrupt ending was disconcerting.