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Sakharov the Bear: Michael Gresham Legal Thriller Series Book Five (5) Paperback – 13 September 2019
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- Publisher : John Ellsworth Author LLC (13 September 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 312 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0578579014
- ISBN-13 : 978-0578579016
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 1.65 x 22.86 cm
- Customer Reviews:
"John Ellsworth delivers again! With a plot as relevant as today's headlines, and gripping drama you will wish could not be true: Sakharov The Bear grabs ahold of you and won't let go until the last page. "
"Mr Ellsworth has succeeded is writing a thoroughly engrossing novel in this, the latest in his Michael Gresham series. This time the lawyer and the reader are taken completely out of our comfort zone as Michael finds himself defending a CIA associate in Mother Russia, a cold hearted old woman who turns his universe inside out."
"The versatility of John Ellsworth amazes me. He has created a totally believable read that could be true today, but is fiction. His research is top-notch into the inner workings of the Russian government. I have read every novel he has written. "
"This books grabs you from the first page. Two CIA operatives are on a mission that goes terribly wrong. The location is Russia and we are introduced to the ugly side of the Russian penal system and justice system. The agents find themselves in a lot of trouble because they have killed the son of a man high up in the government. They are tracked down to a CIA safe house and immediately thrown into a Russian jail."
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What is disappointing is the apparent lack of proof reading. Numerous (to many to note) typos, spelling and grammar errors make the author a somewhat difficult read. I persevered only because of a good story line, Sakharov the being the exception. Many times through out the read, It was very difficult to continue.
Top reviews from other countries
The book really blended time periods in its impressions of the country; so I get the impression that the author has been here many years ago and was basing his story on that experience and not much else. The names of the Russian characters will immediately tell anyone who knows the culture that the author doesn't speak the language and doesn't know that much. The book was set in modern times, with the characters using cell phones for example, but it depicted the Moscow of 15-20 years ago, with danger and criminality and no place for dinner or a good cup of coffee (I was thinking--drop into Starbucks guys, Moscow has dozens of them now!). Other little errors like that prevented me from enjoying this book. For example, when he has the heroes dropping into a drug store to buy a flashlight, I'm thinking, no, drug stores here sell drugs, you have to go elsewhere for flashlights. To be fair though, these things probably wouldn't annoy people who haven't lived here.
I also didn't find the depiction of the Russian trial system all that accurate. On the surface, yes. It's true that criminal defendants are not often released on bail, and sit in a cage away from the lawyer. But going deeper than that it was completely inaccurate. I just wanted to keep saying, no, that's not right, that wouldn't happen that way. I'm not so blind that I don't believe the characters would be tortured in jail or kept in cold and subhuman conditions in jail--that unfortunately could be accurate. But it's just crazy to imagine a couple of American lawyers would be allowed to drop in to represent a criminal defendant in a Russian court, even with local counsel. It's equally crazy to think that the only Russian lawyer willing to get involved in a case defending a foreign spy would be a real estate lawyer with no criminal law experience. There is a very good defense bar here, including many English speaking advocates willing to rock the system. And just a little procedure, for instance: the defendant would never be prevented from saying the last word in the trial. The "defendant's last word" is a hallmark of the trial system.
But my disappointment ran from more than that I guess, I just couldn't understand the logic behind the character's actions. For example, when the hero suddenly decides to fake the identity of someone else, I was wondering what in the world his motivation could be. And he's crossing borders without passports and visas for example, without even worrying about it. The book doesn't even address the problem that the spy the hero defends actually is guilty. It kind of drops what I expected to be a developing story about the evil English double agent. And the book asks us to suspend disbelief just a bit too much when the hero and his friend are supposedly disguising themselves as Russians and apparently fooling everyone, especially since the hero doesn't speak Russian.
So in sum, I just wasn't impressed with this at all. If you are interested in light reading mysteries that accurately depict Russia of the 1980's-2000's, I would suggest any of Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Rostnikov novels instead.
I had to give up on this debacle about two-thirds through the story. Wish I'd quit sooner. What a waste of time.