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July 2014

The Black Sea : Housing The Dead For Several Centuries

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” ‘The CIA code word for him is The Mingrelian. That’s a tribe or clan in the Republic of Georgia, that’s been prominent in the Caucases since the dawn of civilization. Mingrelians were among the first Christians and remained Christian through Mongol, Persian, and Turkish invasions. Their aristocracy maintained an independent principality along the coast of the Black Sea until the whole region was swallowed up by the Russian Czar in the 19th century, and then they became an integral part of the Georgian society and culture. Though they’re prominent in government and business, they cling to the memory of their former glory and independence, and to the Mingrelian dialect as a second language. Other Georgians joke about it, but there is an undercurrent of suspicion of Mingrelian conspiracies in business or government.’ “

An assassination attempt on the Russian president Dmitry Medvedov occurs as he is in Georgia to mend fences and control public relations. Captain Boyd Chailland has recently recovered from his last mission that left him with a fractured skull, gun shot through the lung, three collapsed vertebrae, two broken ribs, a part of his scapula and a rib on the right side of his body missing. From a psychological standpoint Boyd is suffering from survivors guilt, vivid flashbacks, and post traumatic stress disorder. The sacrifices you make for your country, but when you consider yourself an action officer and a lover of “black ops, injuries are just part of the game. In his recovery he is being reassigned from his current position as a journeyman F-16 pilot and flight leader at the Shaw air force base in Colombia, South Carolina to learning to fly the C-130 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Two weeks into his training on the C-130 Boyd is hastily assigned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia where he is provided the parameters of his next mission. His first objective is to report to CIA training base in Camp Peary where he will learn the craft of espionage. After completion, his next mission if he chooses to accept it is to make contact with The Mingrelian, a man the CIA has never seen. Meeting the unknown man is one thing, falling in love while protecting his daughter Ekaterina is another. Eyes up, watch your step, and tread lightly.

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The Iranian nuclear program have all the tools they need, they have the blueprint as well as the personnel, all they need are the detonators. Currently the Islamic Republic of Iran have noticed a glitch in the system, a traitor is stealing their secrets for obtaining nukes and notifying the United States. This revelation has only expedited the procurement process and forced Boyd to make contact with the Mingrelian before it’s too late.

“Like Lado Chikovani, he had a vision; a vision of Iran as a prosperous world trading partner, accepted and respected for its resources, expertise and human capital. He wanted a normal, prosperous, safe life for his children and grandchildren. His family had no future if his mission were exposed; his nation had no future if his mission failed.”

The Mingrelian is the third book in the Boyd Chailland series and takes us to Central Asia on the precipice of nuclear war and as the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Mohammad Mashadi sees it,  the end of days. There are a lot of characters and plenty of things going on in this book. The author is able to clearly showcase his understanding of aviation and many potential global concerns. With the presence of real life prominent figures such as a Brian Williams like NBC news reporter, Dmitri Medvedov and others playing a role, the reader is able to identify the serious nature of the various events and the probabilities of what can happen if current problems are not addressed.

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One of my favourite characters was Dabney St.Clair. At the start of the story she is assigned as a Station Chief/Covert Agent in Tbilisi, Georgia and at a function she indulges herself in a little more brandy than she probably should have. By accepting the role as alcohol-fueled pace car she engages in too much chit-chat and compromises the identity of two other CIA Agents stationed with her. There is also a moment in her curve-hugging gym gear when her overtures towards Boyd get a less than desired response. There is also a point when she believes she is engaging in diplomatic endeavours with Farhad Shirazi Deputy Ambassador, Embassy of Iran but in reality she has been used as a pawn in the Iran-US power struggle. She is a very interesting character that finds herself in precarious situations and provides unintentional humour in the midst of a very serious topic.

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Overall, I felt that The Mingrelian was really difficult to follow with the overindulgence of characters and side stories. There is a lot of action but sometimes I appreciate it when you can take a breath, let the story unfold, and get a chance to get to know the various motivations of the important players. If you enjoy high-octane action with detailed accounts of aviation expeditions, nuclear weaponry, and national approaches to diplomacy/prominence then you will enjoy this book.

“The wind was blowing from the north. Perfect. The surface blast would pick up thousands of tons of dirt out of a crater a mile across and mix it all up with the incredible burst of neutrons and gamma radiation from the nuclear fission. That initial blast of radiation would change benign elements like iron and calcium to unstable isotopes that would emit gamma rays, alpha and beta particles, and neutrons for centuries. Those unstable isotopes would drop in chunks along the direction of the prevailing wind all the way to Tel Aviv. Then a fine, white dust composed of unexploded plutonium and other unstable elements would fall softly like snow over the next week. Any activity would stir that dust up, and people would breathe it in; it would contaminate food stores and water supplies.It would make most of Israel dangerously radioactive.”

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