Halstead’s impressive fourth Russian Agents thriller (after The End of America’s War in Afghanistan) avoids the shopworn conventions of the genre. In 1994, Russian Senior Sgt. Pofistal Arbakov, while dismantling an SS-24 nuclear missile in Ukraine, removes two of its 10 warheads, replaces them with dummies, and hides the real ones in a storage locker. Flash forward to the near future. Anatoly Grishkov, Mikhail Vasilyev, and Mikhail’s wife, Neda Rhahbar—all Russian FSB agents—are tasked with finding the missing warheads. Though Americans are involved, the three FSB agents take center stage. Halstead, a retired Foreign Service officer, keeps their actions and motivations believable while delivering insights into the present conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Fans of character-driven spy novels will be rewarded.
Three Russian agents are searching Ukraine for a missing thermonuclear warhead. America suspects the warhead wasn’t really stolen, and its detonation might be a pretext to let Russia seize Ukraine. Will the agents find the warhead before it is used, and starts WWIII? This will be the Russian agents’ greatest challenge yet.