Tag Archives: Political murder

Vincent, Steve P.: The Foundation (Jack Emery I) (2015)

The Foundation by Steve P Vincent

When he was finished, he ejected the USB and all signs of the message board vanished from the screen. Chen left the internet café as anonymously as he’d entered, satisfied that everything was in place for the attack. He had no expectation that he’d bring down the Chinese Government, though he did believe that a heavy enough blow could cause a fracture in the monolith. He felt a small degree of guilt for the innocents who’d die, but their lives were the price of vengeance.

One of Norway’s better known war journalists is Åsne Seierstad. Her work has taken her around the world to high-adrenaline and gruesome situations filled with death and dying (and probably long periods of boredom). Jack Emery is one of the huge clan of war journalists and has been to Afghanistan. Right now he has been back a while and wants a new assignment. His boss does not trust him with important work due to a drinking problem Jack developed upon his return. During the course of the story what seemed important enough to send him chasing bottles ends up filling him with regret and self-derision. Not derision for drinking himself to bits but derision for insisting on interpreting the world one way.

Death seems to focus our minds on what each of us considers vital to existence. In Jack’s case that turned him back to the hunt for truth. In a manner of speaking, Jack is our detective and the story is a large-scale whodunit. I suppose all thrillers are that at their base. Mr. Vincent has skillfully added corporations and governments to the whodunit stew and come up with an extremely entertaining story about the shenanigans of countries and corporations.

In my experience, all thrillers that make their characters believable also create a story that becomes probable. Chen provides us with the spark that sets off tension between the United States and China. He is by no means alone in setting the scene for what the countries call a terrorist act. What countries get away with doing (“aggressive military posturing”) independent people/corporations must be punished for. Politics seldom make sense. When it comes to large-scale murder they make even less sense.

As Jack and his fellow journalists poke their heads further and further into the wasp’s nest, their lives become less secure. We all know that is because the perpetrators fear discovery. In this case there are several instigators behind the scenes and none of them want to be found out.

There is plenty of violence (somewhat explicit), loads of action and some sex (not explicit).

Before reading The Foundation (TF), I read Fireplay (see quote). Fireplay is written after TF, but its plot happens before the plot of TF. TF is written in Australian English. Any language oddities you find therein will probably be due to that.

Definitely recommended.

The Foundation was recommended to me by Nathan Farrugia (The Fifth Column)


The Foundation may be found on Goodreads

Goldfarb, Alex and Litvinenko, Marina: Death of a Dissident – The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB (2007)

Alexander LitvinenkoAlexander Litvinenko awaiting death

Death by pulonium-210. Pulonium in the blood is not a pleasant way to go. But then I guess quite a few ways of dying are rather unpleasant. What makes it a sensational death is that Litvinenko was poisoned and quite a few people suspect that it is a political death – like the death of Anna Politkovskaya.

So who was Alexander Litvinenko? Why was it necessary to kill him?

Some of Death of a Dissident is bleak reading. Unsurprising but bleak. The lengths to which some people will go to gain and retain power is frightening. It seems there is always someone who is willing to give up their integrity for gain.

Boris Berezovsky with bodyguards

Warning right away. As you read Death of a Dissident you might keep in mind that one of the writers of the book was Alex Goldfarb. Goldfarb was/is employed by Boris Berezovsky. Goldfarb admits to this relationship at the beginning of the book. Whether it is possible to trust all of the information in Death of a Dissident is something worth asking oneself.

DREPT I LONDON:  Alexander Litvinenko døde etter å ha fått en dødelig dose polonium-210 i kroppen.Alexander before poisoning

In 2000 Litvinenko decided that it was time that he and Marina ran from it before he was arrested once more. After the claims against the FSB leadership, it had become unsafe for him to stay in Russia. With the help of Boris Berezovsky and Alex Goldfarb they left and finally arrived in the UK.

During their drive across Turkey, Alex Goldfarb felt he got to know Sasja. His life had not been a dance on roses and Sasja felt that Marina was the one who ultimately saved him.

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was born in 1962 (so a year younger than my brother) in Russia. His route of service went from the Internal Troops of the Minstry of Internal Affairs to the Dzerzhinsky Division of the Soviet Minstry of Internal Affairs. From there he entered the KGB and finally the FSB. He had lived a long life of service to the system and it could not have been easy for him to betray that system.

Before marrying Marina, Litvinenko had been married to Nataliya. Together they had a son and a daughter. In 1994 they would divorce.

Litvinenko’s meeting with Boris Berezovsky changes Sasja’s life Even though he know how much Boris likes money, and that the ends justify his means, Alex sticks with him through thick and thin. This relationship is part of what brings so much trouble into Sasja’s life. When the system wishes to charge Boris with crimes, Alexander’s loyalty to the state gets challenged.

Along with all of the bad military experiences Sasja has in the Chechenian was, experiences with poorly equipped soldiers being asked to do impossible things, Alex is also influenced by the shifting power in the FSB. Deniability was becoming increasingly difficult. When Sasja was arrested after becoming a whistleblower (along with several others) his life in Russia becomes untenable and escape becomes a real option for him and Marina.

Once they get to London, Alexander Litvinenko begins telling his tale of power struggles in Russia – depicting Putin as Mr. Bad while Boris is often the alleged victim. When he is poisoned, one of the claims is that Putin is behind the poisoning.

How much of this book that is truth and how much of it that is fiction is difficult for me to say. Putin is indisputably a bad boy in a country where rules and regulations seem to have taken a vacation. This is a country where survival of the strongest and most brutal is a reality. It is a fascinating story of one man’s journey (along with all of the people around) and well worth reading.