Bell, Ted. Tsar. Atria Books, Sept 2008. c486p. ISBN 978-1-4165-5040-2. $26.95 Fiction.

In Bell's fifth thriller starring Alexander Hawke, the British lord and spy has recovered from his last mission (Spy) and is relaxing on a Bermuda beach when he encounters Anastasia Korsakova, a beautiful Russian artist. Her father, a count, is about to receive the Nobel Prize in physics. Among his inventions are a fabulous airship with a new mode of propulsion and the Zeta, a computer that costs only $50. What Hawke doesn't know is that the count also happens to be a virtual tsar, secretly ruling the Russian Federation behind the president's back. Now, Russian troops are massed on the borders of the Soviet Union's former states, and a deadly agent has been sent to wreak havoc on an American town, only the first steps in a drive for global conquest. Yes, as one character puts it, the bad old days are back, Cold War II. Only now the once cozy equilibrium between East and West no longer holds. Hawke and his band of brothers may save the day but not without sacrifice. Many thriller writers come up with doomsday scenarios, most farfetched and unbelievable, but Bell delivers with larger-than-life characters full of élan and a threat that is both ingenious and convincing. Recommended for public libraries

Library Journal, 133, no. 13 (August 15, 2008).

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