“The Colonel’s Mistake” by Dan Mayland is the first book in a three book series of thriller novels featuring Mark Sava, the aging, low key, former CIA Station Chief in Azerbaijan in former Soviet Central Asia. It is an excellent, gritty, grass-roots spy story, and you can’t get much more backwater than Azerbaijan. Sava has stayed on as a consultant living in Baku, the country’s hot, dusty, corrupt capital. He gets dragged into a friend’s kidnapping, an attempted coup in Iran, and a proposed Chinese oil pipeline. Think George Smiley, not James Bond or Mitch Rapp. Like the rest of the countries in that area, Azerbaijan has become a pawn in the 21st Century version of “the Great Game” of oil, international politics, intrigue, corruption, and espionage between Russia, Iran, China, and the US. With twists, flips, and turns, that is the real life screen upon which Mayland’s novels project. I have no doubt that his complex, seamy, and corrupt picture of the region is spot on, as I have no doubt that our current State Department wizards don’t begin understand any of it. Too bad the wizards in Washington never read history or even Rudyard Kipling. Any of that could have kept us out of a number of recent wars from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Series books are very much in vogue these days. I usually dislike them, because I feel they all-too-often cheat the reader. To me, a story should be distinct and complete from cover to cover and not simply a teaser to get the reader to buy yet another book. I don’t know how the next books in Mayland’s series will work out, but I intend to read more of them.
William F. Brown is the author of 5 suspense novels with over 300 Five-Star Reviews: The Undertaker, Amongst My Enemies, Thursday at Noon, Winner Take All, and now Aim True, My Brothers available on Kindle and Audible Audio Books. You can read about them at billbrownwritesnovels.wordpress.com