The Russian President wants him dead…

But Constantine can no longer hide in Europe.

He’s on the run again. Targeted by unknown assassins. On the trail of a conspiracy leading back to Moscow.

Only one man can save him. Eugene Sokolov. An elite rescue unit officer.

His brother.

Sokolov must find Constantine. And to survive, they must uncover the truth.

What secret cargo was aboard Stalin’s special train?

Where did it vanish to?

And why are global powers clashing in Central Asia?

In a maze of deceit and dark history, they’re fighting for more than just their lives.

The fate of entire nations is at stake.

Clive Cussler loved this thriller. You will, too.

"A high-octane, intellectually gratifying thriller."
~ Steven Konkoly, #1 bestselling author of the BLACK FLAGGED and RYAN DECKER series.

"This book has got it all... Intrigue, adventure, high stakes, and all the action you can handle ... pure nitroglycerin."
~ Jeff Edwards, bestselling author of THE SEVENTH ANGEL and SWORD OF SHIVA.



ANDREI BORISOV HAD HIS cheek pressed into the grass with relentless force. Traversing the vineyard on the other side of the empty house, he had anticipated trouble, but not such an onslaught of violence. Shamefully, Borisov, an experienced bodyguard, had missed an attack from behind.

To the credit of his assailant, it had come like a lightning flash. A thunderous kick had walloped into his knee, and he toppled to the moist ground, his right arm twisted inside out behind his back, his own gun yanked from under his belt and pushed against his skull.

A knee dug into his spine, with the attacker’s body resting on top.

Que fais-tu ici?

The voice was soft and calm, but by the man’s breathing, Borisov judged that his assailant was hyped on adrenalin.

The pressure in his back increased, prompting him to start the explanation.

“I’m looking for—”

The man repeated his question, his tone stronger.

Je …” Borisov’s mind raced. He fumbled for the appropriate words. His French was poor. “Je cherche Monsieur Constantine Sokolov.” Now the voice was close to his ear. Hissing with malice.

Malheureusement pour toi, c’est une reponse incorrecte. Je m’appelle Jean-Pierre Youdine. Quelques minutes plus tard, les flics vont arriver.

Despite what the quiet voice had said, Borisov was certain that it was the man he sought. He had proof in the pocket of his jacket! Inside the house, he had stolen two passports. One was French, in the name of Youdine, the other Russian, belonging to Sokolov. Both had the photo of the same man. The man holding the SIG-Sauer to his head.

But if the cops were really on their way, there wasn’t much time. Abandoning the futile efforts in French, Borisov said the next sentence in Russian. It was a gamble.

“The Metropolitan sends his blessing from Moscow.”

At these words, the man’s breath was cut short.

That didn’t prepare Borisov for what was about to come.

Harshly, the man twisted his arm, turning him face up, crashed the gun against his ribs and pinned him down again with his weight, one hand holding the gun, the other grabbing his lapel.

“You’re a spy! Who sent you?” the man shouted in Russian.

His eyes were as grey as stormy clouds and, full of rage, just as menacing. The sandy hair fell to his shoulders. Week-old stubble had darkened his face. Constantine was clad in a cotton shirt and jeans, simple clothes not dissimilar in style to those worn by the common townsfolk of Blois, except for their tragic black color.

Another knee strike, this one expertly delivered into Borisov’s liver, gave the question extra urgency.

Je travaille—damn … I work exclusively for a Russian businessman. He sent me to relay a message for Constantine Sokolov.”

Something evil flashed behind the gray eyes.

How do you know my name and address?

Borisov’s mouth turned dry. “I …”

The man leveled the automatic between Borisov’s eyes. His finger wrapped the trigger.


“From the members of Free Action! I was to say the words: John 19:23. The Metropolitan told my employer that you’d understand the meaning.”

Rage disappeared from Constantine’s face, replaced by incredulity. He held the gun up.

And grabbed Borisov’s hair with his free left hand. Tearing it away from his scalp, Constantine Sokolov thrust the gun under Borisov’s chin.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Andrei Borisov! I provide security for Maxim Malinin!”

The businessman’s name didn’t seem to ring a bell to Youdine-Sokolov.

“Why should I believe you?”

The man was clinical. Borisov groaned. The brutal pull at his hair caused such agony that it felt as though the top of his head was about to peel off.

“My ID … it’s in my wallet!”

“No. Why should I believe that you didn’t come here to kill me?”

“Because I didn’t! I’m alone! I’m here to talk!”

“Is that why you’ve brought a gun?” A sharp yank at the hair arched Borisov’s head back, the muzzle scratching the taut skin of his neck.

Borisov wheezed, “It was a mere precaution!”

“Is that why you jumped over my fence? And broke into my house?”

“No one answered … the bell at the gate!”

“Then why didn’t you leave? It was a sure sign I’m in no mood for visitors.” Then, abruptly, “What does this Monsieur Malinin want?”

“A rendezvous … The Metropolitan asked him to see you.”


“In Paris.”


“He wants to confess.”

“I’m not a priest.”

“But you’re the only one who can abolish his sins.”

Constantine’s gaze became unfocused while somewhere in his mind a decision was forming.

He released Borisov’s head. A moment later, the fingers patted over Borisov’s jacket. Constantine didn’t bother about the cell phone, or the wallet. Neither was he interested in the second pistol, a small revolver hidden in a holster on Borisov’s shin. He was checking if Borisov had stolen anything from his house. He retrieved the two passports from the inner pocket, and frowned at the treachery.

Then lifted himself off Borisov and got to his feet.

The stormy grey eyes bored into Borisov’s face before Jean-Pierre Youdine, also known as Constantine Ivanovich Sokolov, motioned with the gun for Borisov to get up.

Alors, on y va,” he said and walked off towards the wrought iron gate, in the direction from which Borisov had approached. “But I’ll keep the SIG-Sauer.”

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