The Rodina Plot
by Michael Gerhardt

"The scene before him reminded him of the tintypes he had seen in the Great Revolution ninety years earlier. His heart swelled with pride as he pictured himself standing side by side with the heroic men who had fashioned that revolution."

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Communist Bloc, it would seem unimaginable that the Soviet Union would reunite, but Michael Gerhardt explores that premise in his novel, The Rodina Plot. Featuring a huge cast of characters, the book is a vast picture painted on a very broad canvas as the author includes the American military, the Chinese government, Georgetown graduate students, Texan oil barons, the mafia, and an endless array of Russians, both in favor of and opposed to the current government. The novel centers around a rebel group, The New Peoples Movement, in their attempt to topple the current Russian Federation and reunify the former Soviet Union by first staging grass-root insurgencies and revolts which metastasize into acts of full scale destruction. There are numerous views of what being a true Russian means as one meets a host of characters of different ethnicities and from different regions of the country, all standing under the banner of being Russian.

Subterfuge embroiled within more subterfuge is an essential element of all spy thrillers. The author sets the chief Russian protagonist, Dmitri Petrokoff, as being far from the savior his followers imagine him to be. Instead, he is a power-hungry demagogue who willingly sacrifices members of his own family for the cause he is championing.

Although intricately detailed and populated with about as many people as Russia herself, the novels plotting is brittle. For example, one of two characters introduced in the Prologue, which is just a teaser and may have served the story better by being left out, is not seen until much later in the book. Sometimes the story's approach to the world of covert government operations, overthrow, and espionage is primitive, but The Rodina Plot is an engaging, entertaining, and solid first effort for an emerging writer.

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