Hello everyone! I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve got a new story in the Doctor Rowena Halley series out now. In fact, it’s the prequel, the foundation story, the backstory…whatever you want to call it. It’s a novelette of about 20k words, takes place the winter before the beginning of the main series, and explains how Rowena and Dima broke up and why Rowena can’t go back to Moscow…or can she?
You can get a FREE copy of my new story “Foreign Exchange,” plus dozens of other free stories, in the Event Horizon Giveaway!
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but the story takes place over Christmas 2013 and New Year’s 2014. It’s set in Moscow, but the events of the Euromaidan protests in Kiev form a backdrop to the action.
A couple of the key scenes in the story take place in Gorky Park. I chose to do that first of all because Gorky Park is a major Moscow landmark and one I have happy memories of, and second of all because it’s one of the few Moscow landmarks that Americans know by name. It’s my little homage to Martin Cruz Smith’s excellent and ground-breaking Gorky Park, that foundational Russian-themed thriller. And although my own series is very different from Smith’s, I do enjoy dropping that kind of Easter egg 🙂
Of course, “Foreign Exchange” is choc-a-bloc full of references to Russian literature as well, and lots of other things Russian. I could go on and on about the real-life people and events behind the story, and I’m sure I will in future posts, but instead of getting sidetracked, I think I’ll drop an excerpt for you here instead:
It started off just like any other trip to Russia.
After living a life of extreme parsimony all fall, I had saved up enough money to buy a cattle-class ticket from Indianapolis to Moscow, where I had been going every school break for the past six years.
Just like I had every single time previously, I promised myself as I sat at the gate at Indianapolis, and then again at the gates at O’Hare and JFK, and with considerable fervency somewhere around hour six of being jammed into the very back row for the ten-hour flight from JFK to Sheremetyevo, Moscow’s biggest international airport, that next time Dima would come to me.
The reason I was making this trip, just like all the trips before it, was not because I loved Moscow—although I did—but because I loved someone in it. Namely, my fiancé, Dmitry Vladimirovich Kuznetsov. Known as Dima to his friends and family, and, increasingly, a national traitor and an enemy of the people to his enemies. And by December 25 (tickets were cheaper on Christmas Day), 2013, Dima had made a lot of enemies.
He hadn’t originally meant to. In fact, originally he had meant to be a hero of the people, just like his father before him, who had died so gallantly and so pointlessly in Afghanistan shortly after Dima’s birth.
Being the son of a dead war hero you didn’t remember was a lot of pressure. Growing up during perestroika and then the incredible turmoil of the collapse of the USSR and the wild, wild Yeltsin years was a lot more pressure. Maybe that explained why Dima had decided to re-enlist after he finished his mandatory two-year military service, only this time in OMON, the special forces riot control units that had such a bad reputation. Or maybe as the only son of a single mother with long-term health problems, he just really needed the money.
In any case, they had sent him off to do bad things in bad places, mainly hunting down and interrogating suspected rebels in Chechnya. That had turned out to be less glorious and honorable than Dima had hoped. Back in Moscow, dragging his former friends by the legs into police vans had been even less glorious, and the money had never been very good anyway. So by the time I met him, in 2005, he had gotten out of OMON and started a new career, this time as a journalist hellbent on fighting crime and corruption. There was certainly plenty of scope for that. Unfortunately, in Russia crime and corruption had a tendency to fight back.
Like what you’ve read? Here’s that link to get a FREE copy of “Foreign Exchange” in the Event Horizon Giveaway