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MISUNDERSTANDING THE STANS A licence to kill Oh heavens, no Daphne Park, UK Secret Intelligence Service Officer The Post 9 11 era made the civilized free world do some very nasty things Hopped up on rage and solidarity with an America who had seen 3000 people die in the worst terrorist attack in history and smug, psychotic Islamic terrorists strutting around like peacocks, extreme measures were signed off on by the neocon interventionalists in the Bush White House Extraordinary renditio MISUNDERSTANDING THE STANS A licence to kill Oh heavens, no Daphne Park, UK Secret Intelligence Service Officer The Post 9 11 era made the civilized free world do some very nasty things Hopped up on rage and solidarity with an America who had seen 3000 people die in the worst terrorist attack in history and smug, psychotic Islamic terrorists strutting around like peacocks, extreme measures were signed off on by the neocon interventionalists in the Bush White House Extraordinary rendition, paramilitary operations that went across borders, raids with UAVs and of course, enhanced interrogation Restrictive, noble values were thrown aside and whatever it took to destroy the Islamic extremist threat to civilization and defend the foundations of all that was good and noble in the world was sanctioned and gradually became the new normal These methods are nothing new and have existed ever since humanity came up with espionage and intelligence agencies However, out of all the methods, the one which was never fully accepted was the enhanced interrogation After scandals involving blundering sadists in Abu Garib and a continuing stream of real or imagined abuses in Guantanamo Bay, the USA began to minimize the practise and in the great capitalist tradition, outsource it to other countries Whether finger nail pulling in Egypt, or foot beating in Yemen, there was also the Central Asian countries who had their offers for assistance accepted One of these countries was Uzbekistan When most people hear about the Stans, they think either Taliban terrorists or Borat like buffoons The reality can t be further from the truth Countries like Uzbekistan are full of natural resources, have interesting cultures and a variety of eccentric leaders They re also mostly ruled by kleptocrats and are some of the biggest human rights abusers on the planet Uzbekistan in the previous decade fit this bill A landlocked country, it just so happened to be on the border with Afghanistan, making it the perfect staging point for a variety of CIA and later US military operations They also, according to the former British Ambassador turned nutty conspiracy theorist C Murray extracted intelligence with psychotic aplomb from Jihadists the CIA and UK SIS provided them It s on this backdrop that Tara Chace rides again The first truly great Post 9 11 spy fiction heroine, in Private Wars , we find her trying and struggling to move on from the spying game But when her boss comes to her at the end of his rope, she decides to fight a private war on his behalf From London to the Badlands of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, Minder 1 returns, having to prove to all those gunning for her that she can still gun them down Now to the review When fighting a war, what price will you pay to keep your sins private Private Wars begins in a very nasty, murderous fashion A woman, the daughter in law of the President of Uzbekistan is dragged out of her home by agents of the National Security Service As former KGB veterans, like most of the former Soviet Intelligence community, it s the case of new name, nicer designer suits and same, unfriendly service The victim, Dina, was a whistle blower who had got tape and accounts of torture victims out to the West which then ended up in the international media Dumped in a torture chamber Dina comes face to face with Ahtam Zahidov, the director of the NSS She is then raped, mangled and penetrated with every implement in a tool box and then char boiled in a bathtub with an oil drum of boiling water dumped on her Before dying, she squeals and gives up her source who is shot without ceremony by his former NSS friends A few days later, we cut to Paul Crocker, Director of operations at the SIS He s not having a good day at work Tara Chace has resigned in the wake of the previous novel, her replacement is a good case officer, but an absolutely horrendous paramilitary officer and proceeds to utterly wreck an op being run in Malaysia, leading to injuries and mission failure C decides that he can use this to get rid of Crocker whom he loathes and begins scheming Meanwhile in Uzbekistan s capital Tashkent, a minor US Diplomat and the US Ambassador are contacted by the son of the Uzbekistan President They find out his father is dying, and his sister is set to get the whole pie alongside her lover, Ahtam Zahidov, the NSS chief He offers to defect to the West and sweetens the deal by offering to be the better replacement to his sister As this is going on, four of the finest BAE Starstreak missiles go missing in North Afghanistan With all these balls up in the air, Crocker heads to the only woman he can trust Tara Chace, retired spy, now single mother Forcing her to fly to Uzbekistan, Chace finds herself in her toughest job yet, one which would break an ordinary spy But that s all in a day s work for those who spy and kill for Queen and Country As events head to a visceral climax at the crossing where a war began and ended, only one question remains How far are you willing to go to keep the sins of a war private In terms of plot, the author raises his game with Private Wars By taking the readers to a country they wouldn t know is hugely important in the Post 9 11 world and is a place only the craziest tourists would venture into, the novel feels fresh and continually surprising The story focuses on the clash between realpolitik and morals and how the West constantly has its own selection of acceptable totalitarians to support, chaps who pay lip service to alliances, take American or European money and then use said alliances as a get out of jail free card when violating the life out of whomever crosses them Private Wars explores this argument, showing how in spite of how vile the realpolitik approach is, inevitably we cannot help ourselves but pick it and collude with autocrats and dictators out of greed and a lot of short term necessity that gives the illusion of long term stability The story also focuses on the realities of being a spy with loved ones and a family Chace as a single mother no longer possesses the devil may care, nothing to lose attitude that once gave her the edge when working for the SIS, but she also has an added motivation to survive and live Seeing both come into conflict is a highlight of the story Action and setting Private Wars uses its unfamiliar setting to perfection with some very large scale bits of violence that match even the work Mark Greaney has done in recent years From the madcap, explosive car chase through the evening of Tashkent, a gun battle in an Afghan valley, and then the spectacular, emotionally devastating climax on the Uzbekistan Bridge of Friendship, Private Wars actually has fewer big set pieces, but the ones it does, go big and bold One particular highlight is when Tara breaks out a BAE Star Streak and shows just what the rocket launcher is capable of, to the delight of an unexpected audience The backdrops which the action takes place also deserve special mention From the glittering, gentrified parts of Tashkent, to its barren, dreary countryside, by far the biggest highlight of the story is the Amu Darya Friendship bridge, the only land link between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan Rucka uses the environment and location to great effect, with one devastating sleight of hand that changes the name of the game in its final minutes Research Perfect Rucka utilizes the real world details of the narrative to deliver a plot complex and thematic complex work All the human rights abuses that the Uzbekistan State subjects its citizens to, whether it be Islamist extremists or even defenceless individuals who want to study, and practise Islam are portrayed with sickening, accurate detail The local environment and even bits of the history of Uzbekistan and the culture, issues and events that turned it into the very strange country it is today are also explored in great detail, particularly the minor wars Uzbekistan had with the Taliban in the 1990s and the ongoing Central Asian drug trade which Uzbekistan is a major part of Alongside this, we also get the usual combat tactics, tradecraft and internal political power plays between the SIS and CIA caused by the unequal dynamics of the special relationship Rucka may have been a comic book writer, but he should not be dismissed because of the medium At times, Queen and Country gives a farrealistic portrayal of the spying game compared to the Brad Thor books and especially the Ben Coes ones Characters Brilliant, simply brilliant We have many, many highlights in this area I ll focus on Tara, Sevra and Ahtam First, Tara Chace in this book has a very interesting arc, namely trying to adjust to life with a daughter, a possibility she never expected as one of the paramilitary officers who normally died on the job working for the SIS In this story, she s wound quite tight, knowing that she s out of practise and gotten blunt since she s become a single mother Rucka portrays the transition back into badass super spy realistically Chace is actively fighting not to make mistakes and one can see her actively adjusting and fighting as her operational plan starts to go off the rails This story also has Chace being faced with a pretty emotional parallel, one which hits close to home and forces her at the end to commit a shocking heart breaking act that wouldn t be out of place in a John Le Carre story Next, we have Sevra who almost steals the show from Chace Sevra is the heir apparent to the Uzbekistan Presidency Gorgeous, charming, she s inherited all of her father s ruthlessness and amorality Part mob boss, part despot, Sevra can charm the socks off any man, while ordering their deaths with natural ease Clever, and insidious, Sevra is also pragmatic and has a surprising humanity Despite being an evil person, she still loving her sibling and nephew while putting them under house arrest when the man she loves is nearly screaming at her to shoot them both Sevra embodies the realpolitik side of the foreign policy divide her brother takes the moral side and revels in it A complex villain who is someone you will love to hate, Sevra is a cut above most spy fiction antagonists with sympathetic and loathsome sides to her personality and is a tough, strong lady in a patriarchal country Finally, we have Ahtam, the nominal big bad of the story Ahtam is a secret policeman of the old Soviet School, he acts as the henchman for his lover Sevra, the one person on earth he cares about A cruel, power hungry man with great disdain for the people he s sent out to destroy, Ahtam is also a very complex monster He s motivated by many things as he rapes, breaks bones, and boils dissidents alive Power for himself and a pathological need to dominate those who defy him by crushing them body and soul, love for the woman he believes is worthy of his services, and surprisingly enough, patriotism and a desire to protect Uzbekistan Ahtam genuinely hates Islamic Terrorists in the way Mitch Rapp does, but unlike Mitch Rapp, doesn t see the problem with marrying profitable destruction of dissidents and annoying businesspeople who don t pay their protection rackets on time, with the torture of Islamic terrorists who will sing and give him the intel he can pass on to friends at Langley Despite this sympathetic side, it s very cathartic to see him get his just desserts in the climax of the story where Chace outplays him one final time Constructive Criticism None Private Wars is an amazing brilliant spy novel, even better than its predecessor It surpasses A Gentleman s Game in twists, stakes, violence, and emotional payoff and does so with style and surprises Overall, Private Wars is a splendid second literary outing for the original Post 9 11 female protagonist Bigger, better and bolder than A Gentleman s Game, Private Wars takes us into the dark heart of the geopolitical dilemma that has given the West a lot of headaches and tortured agonizing over the years Getting sinners to fight our wars for us who violate and trample on all the values we claim to believe in and treasure With its impressive, complex plot with surprising emotional payoffs, a cast of complex heroes and villains that you will love, and love to loathe and outstanding research that brings to live an important country that few people could find on a map in under four seconds, Private Wars shows Tara Chace at her best, and is another reason why the genre owes a lot of debt to Minder 1 The final book of the series is the close of Chace s career and takes her to Iran where for one night only, she finds herself pulling off the biggest job the UK SIS has undertaken You won t want to miss it or my review for the world HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (((Free E-pub))) ☞ Private Wars ↾ Only Greg Rucka, the thriller genre s most fearless writer, would dare create a spy so edgy, so explosive, so extreme, she should be rated X Tara Chace was once the most dangerous woman alive And now that the international spy network thinks she s as good as dead, she s even dangerous than ever Only one thing could coax Tara back into the game a chance to vindicate herself The torture and execution of Dina Malikov has set off a cutthroat grab for power in strategically crucial Uzbekistan Tara s job is to slip into the country and extract Dina s pro Western husband and their young son before they are murdered by his ruthless sister But there are a couple of wild cards in the deck, including a missing mobile weapons system that can bring down a commercial airliner, not to mention powerful political careers Now, as she vanishes into hostile territory with a man who may or may not be what he seems, Tara is going to find out that the war on terror is terrifying than anyone knows For in a battle where betrayal is a conventional weapon, loyalty is a weakness, and anyone even a child is a legitimate target it s every spy, every woman, for herself Combine a thriller that defies every expectation with a heroine for whom nothing is out of bounds, and the result is Private Wars, a suspense novel so explosively realistic, it should be classified From the Hardcover edition Vasco: O Ouro e o Ferro/O Prisioneiro de Satanás the thriller genre s most fearless writer Vasco - tome 4 - Sentinelles de la nuit would dare create a spy so edgy On. Pytania intymne so explosive The Stone Speaks so extreme Extras she should be rated X Tara Chace was once the most dangerous woman alive And now that the international spy network thinks she s as good as dead The Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book she s even dangerous than ever Only one thing could coax Tara back into the game a chance to vindicate herself The torture and execution of Dina Malikov has set off a cutthroat grab for power in strategically crucial Uzbekistan Tara s job is to slip into the country and extract Dina s pro Western husband and their young son before they are murdered by his ruthless sister But there are a couple of wild cards in the deck Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love including a missing mobile weapons system that can bring down a commercial airliner Od pop-artu do sztuki konceptualnej not to mention powerful political careers Now The Psychotherapy of C.G. Jung as she vanishes into hostile territory with a man who may or may not be what he seems Georg Barnwell, Oder Der Kaufmann Von London Tara is going to find out that the war on terror is terrifying than anyone knows For in a battle where betrayal is a conventional weapon The Farmers Dog loyalty is a weakness Visions of War and anyone even a child is a legitimate target it s every spy Stalked (Predators MC every woman Bound (The Four Horsemen, for herself Combine a thriller that defies every expectation with a heroine for whom nothing is out of bounds Tokyo Underworld and the result is Private Wars Pk a suspense novel so explosively realistic Team Player 2 it should be classified From the Hardcover edition The first Queen and Country novel, This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Here, Tara Chace is out of the service with a baby This is serious business given the thriller ending of the previous book, A Gentleman s Game Meanwhile, Paul Crocker, her chain smoking, hard ass boss deals with bureaucratic hell His own boss is out to get him, and Tara s replacement sends an operation into chaos These first several chapters make for the most interesting reading in this uneven book In particular, Crocker s at his most compelling here as Crocker plays politics and juggles hi Here, Tara Chace is out of the service with a baby This is serious business given the thriller ending of the previous book, A Gentleman s Game Meanwhile, Paul Crocker, her chain smoking, hard ass boss deals with bureaucratic hell His own boss is out to get him, and Tara s replacement sends an operation into chaos These first several chapters make for the most interesting reading in this uneven book In particular, Crocker s at his most compelling here as Crocker plays politics and juggles his own home life some He tends to be the best character in the Queen Country stories.The rest of the thriller is set in Uzbekistan, where a dying dictator s daughter and son squabble over who will assume control of the country The daughter is a Machiavellian nymphomaniac whose lover is a secret police sadist Turns out, this guy s the real villain So, the story pits Chace against him as she tries to smuggle the brother out of the country and maybe figure out where some rocket launchers are along the way.The story is about Tara s comeback to special operations and Paul Crocker s desperation to avoid a lousy demotion Again, Rucka is willing to do awful things to his protagonist The effect is a build up to Tara s torture and near rape at the hands of the secret police antagonist It s tense, but it s a no brainer figure out Rucka won t go that far No rape is imminent, and her rescue is minutes away.This willingness to torture Tara figuratively and literally is what makes Rucka s writing so great Here, it almost works as well as the previous novel But, not quite The plot becomes to uneven, particuarly at the fast forward moment following Tara s rescue Rucka actually interrupts the narrative chapters with a psychological profile about Chace, who has post traumatic stress disorder who wouldn t and a bloody obvious need for revenge While a bit of interesting verisimilitude, the suspense suffers.Of course, Tara enacts her revenge, and regains her hard edge as Britain s finest Minder Rucka s slang for special agent Best of all, she sneaks in one surprise decision at the close of the story that turns out to be the clearest sign that Tara Chace really is back, motherhood and all.Originally posted at my blog, www.riverwords.net The second Queen Country novel Tara Chace briefly leaves the Minding game to care for her newborn daughter by the KIA Tom Wallace But she s not made for the quotidian life, and soon her D Ops Crocker has her in Uzbekistan, on a mission to extract the dying President s son, whose life is in danger from his power hungry sister and her ex KGB goons Of course, there are secrets within secrets even Crocker doesn t know the real reason for the mission and a small matter of some missing SAMs p The second Queen Country novel Tara Chace briefly leaves the Minding game to care for her newborn daughter by the KIA Tom Wallace But she s not made for the quotidian life, and soon her D Ops Crocker has her in Uzbekistan, on a mission to extract the dying President s son, whose life is in danger from his power hungry sister and her ex KGB goons Of course, there are secrets within secrets even Crocker doesn t know the real reason for the mission and a small matter of some missing SAMs possibly in fundamentalist hands and when the extract goes wrong, the stage is set for another mission, this time personal.Again, Rucka creates a world of intrigue and secrets, in which everyone serves another master, and no one gives the right reason for moving a pawn, out of a wealth of real world detail The result is a compelling and brutal thriller The fictional president in this book is clearly Islam Karimov, the president for life who gets 92% of the vote in elections and whose thugs routinely use torture such as boiling on dissidents the missiles are real British Starstreaks , as is the Uzbek National Security Service, secret police who report directly to the president And Rucka deftly mixes into this ultra realistic political drama the human element that makes his characters so readable, if not totally likeable Chace is arrogant but self loathing, self destructive yet holds herself to an impossibly high standard, and tries to have it all though she knows she doesn t have any answers to life s conundrums It s high suspense, violent drama, and uncompromising I ve been a big fan of Greg Rucka s writing ever since he did work for DC Comics, writing stuff like Batman and Checkmate Nowadays, though, he doesstuff like this, and I have no complaints whatsoever about this.This is a novel about Tara Chace, second in the series Fresh off an incident in Saudi Arabia that saw the one man she loved die, she returns to England with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and pregnant.Deciding to keep the baby, she quits her position as Minder One in the SIS I ve been a big fan of Greg Rucka s writing ever since he did work for DC Comics, writing stuff like Batman and Checkmate Nowadays, though, he doesstuff like this, and I have no complaints whatsoever about this.This is a novel about Tara Chace, second in the series Fresh off an incident in Saudi Arabia that saw the one man she loved die, she returns to England with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and pregnant.Deciding to keep the baby, she quits her position as Minder One in the SIS think super spy extraordinaire except she does just as much paperwork as she does James Bond stuff Except she gets lured back in, with a mission to Uzbekistan that only she is trusted to pull off correctly.The old president there is dying, and his daughter is poised to take over which means his son is in danger Can she get him and his son out safely in time There s a lot of twists and turns in this book, predictably, but the plot always makes sense The characters are very real, all in shades of gray rather than the guys in the white hats and the guys in the black hats, or James Bond vs Blofeld There are people who do bad things with good intentions, and good things with bad intentions.This was a real page turner, and I find it utterly amazing how interesting this book was, considering it s set in one of those istans that most people couldn t be bothered to pick out on a map.Loved this book British special ops ace Tara Chace returns for a series of missions in Uzbekistan some HUGE spoilers ahead Seriously I m giving the big finale away You ve been warned After taking a couple years off to have a baby and brood over the death of the father in the previous book, I inferred , Chace is roped back into the game for an off the books attempt to replace the vicious, rapey president of Uzbekistan with someone less evil.The subtitle could have been The Horrors of Torture The reader British special ops ace Tara Chace returns for a series of missions in Uzbekistan some HUGE spoilers ahead Seriously I m giving the big finale away You ve been warned After taking a couple years off to have a baby and brood over the death of the father in the previous book, I inferred , Chace is roped back into the game for an off the books attempt to replace the vicious, rapey president of Uzbekistan with someone less evil.The subtitle could have been The Horrors of Torture The reader is treated to beatings, maimings, gang rape, and death by boiling though none of it is gratuitous It s an attempt at indictment I say attempt because when Rucka makes the obligatory assertion that torture is ultimately useless the victim will say anything to make it stop , he later on the SAME PAGE has it be successful, with the torturer getting the information he wanted Oops.When it wasn t turning my stomach, Private Wars was dazzling Excellent, realistic spycraft and logistics, complex and believable international politics, realistic action sequences And just a wonderful, awful ending view spoiler Chace is forced to kill the good guy, while his 2 year old son clings frantically to his legs, to prevent him from taking revenge on the Uzbekistani president who had his wife raped and tortured to death hide spoiler that demonstrates how terrible duty can be I am so brilliant that sometimes I just amaze myself I correctly predicted that I would love the second of the Queen they have betrayed her But when her former boss who had tried to protect her from the betrayal asks her to return for another mission she can hardly refuse Chace fails this mission in the worst way through no fault of her own and it s only by chance that she s rescued before the worst happens I am so brilliant that sometimes I just amaze myself I correctly predicted that I would love the second of the Queen Country series Oh how right I was Ms Chace had resigned from SIS and for cause they have betrayed her But when her former boss who had tried to protect her from the betrayal asks her to return for another mission she can hardly refuse Chace fails this mission in the worst way through no fault of her own and it s only by chance that she s rescued before the worst happens But she isn t done Read the book, find out how she avenges herself If you are an action book aficionado you will enjoy virtually anything Rucka writes and this series will not be the exception to the rule Easily my favorite of the Queen and Country novels I enjoyed A Gentleman s Game, but this is the novel where the characters and I really bonded Private Wars is the second novel of a suspense spy thriller series that abandons the shiny novelty of its genre for grinding realism Everyone, protagonists and antagonists, are multidimensional This book contains a particularly grueling scene though that was so honest, I had to put the book down for a thirty minute emotional break The craftsmanship Easily my favorite of the Queen and Country novels I enjoyed A Gentleman s Game, but this is the novel where the characters and I really bonded Private Wars is the second novel of a suspense spy thriller series that abandons the shiny novelty of its genre for grinding realism Everyone, protagonists and antagonists, are multidimensional This book contains a particularly grueling scene though that was so honest, I had to put the book down for a thirty minute emotional break The craftsmanship of the novel is brilliant though The actual structure of the plot and the way he sets characters against each other in scene is awe inspiring 2 in the series Do not read this out of order It starts with a twist I did not see coming There sgraphic violence than I like and an awfully lot of detail repeated from 1 about the structure of British secret services I like most of the characters and it s not very predictable Unfortunately, the exciting and interesting scenes are interwoven with some very boring sections I don t know if I ll read anyof thesemaybe one , but it better bethan a 3 star book And, th 2 in the series Do not read this out of order It starts with a twist I did not see coming There sgraphic violence than I like and an awfully lot of detail repeated from 1 about the structure of British secret services I like most of the characters and it s not very predictable Unfortunately, the exciting and interesting scenes are interwoven with some very boring sections I don t know if I ll read anyof thesemaybe one , but it better bethan a 3 star book And, the main character better find a better way to combine work and the previously mentioned new twist