Mandel certainly exhibits his broad knowledge of military history in this epic “Novel of the Russian Revolution.” It is a sweeping story, outlining the covert mission of Naval officer Stephen Morrison which evolves into a life-changing experience. The first part of the book involves Morrison’s recruitment to join forces with a British agent. Their purpose is to kidnap Tsar Nicholas II in order to destroy the autocracy and establish peace between Russia and Japan. Morrison returns to Russia only to have the mission collapse around him. The second part of the book goes back to Morrison’s childhood as the son of an immigrant Russian rabbi, then adopted son of a U.S. Senator, his training at the naval academy, and his early career in the Navy. The final third of the book has Morrison infiltrating the highest levels of the Bolsheviks after a stint in a Tsarist prison camp. He becomes simply known as Moryak, or Sailor, a ruthless killer with a hidden agenda.
This novel is as much a historic epic as it is a character study of Morrison. His evolution from dutiful American patriot to hardened criminal revolutionary is skillfully portrayed, yet his loyalty is never in doubt. The story itself wasn’t lacking, but this self-published book could have used some editing and could have been trimmed down by 100 pages or so. Despite this, for his first novel, Mandel has demonstrated his talent at constructing engaging historical fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.