Called "the deadliest chessgame ever played" by former CIA Department Chief, author, and counter-terrorism expert, Charles S. Faddis, Greco's Game opens with Talanov hitting rock bottom on the streets of Los Angeles after the brutal murder of his wife, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him. But in the seedy world of black market human trafficking ruled by the Russian Mafia, all is not as it seems. Was her murder an accident, or was it a carefully-planned strategy? The answer lies in Greco's Game, a chess match played in 1619 which Talanov's old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?
While the story is fiction, Turner framed the story against the real world of black market human trafficking operating beneath the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, where he once worked as a journalist interviewing victims at an inner city rescue mission. "I've met people like Larisa," he explains. "But it wasn't until my research for Greco's Game that I knew this was something I wanted our hero to tackle in the wake of his wife's murder. So he becomes unwillingly swept up in a deadly plot, where innocent trafficking victims become pawns and Talanov finds himself pushed to his limits fighting for those victims while trying to solve his wife's murder."
It was a plot he developed while on board a Qantas flight to Los Angeles. "It's in those sublime moments surrounded by great food and wine that storylines emerge from the 'lapidary drum' of ideas in my head," he says. "It's one reason I love flying Qantas. I can relax and think and dream up new adventures. I can't wait to see what happens next flight."
The book has many anchor points in reality. Turner was once a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain, where he transported close to a million dollars' worth of medical supplies, cash, clothing, coffee, even Bibles, to people living under the despotic heel of Communism. "That love of helping people unable to help themselves has always been important to me," he says. "It's who Talanov is because it's who I am, and why I became a smuggler. It's also something a heroic, anonymous KGB agent demonstrated to me years ago when he leaked word out of Moscow that I was on a KGB watchlist and being followed in San Diego, where I was living at the time. He took an enormous risk doing that for someone he'd never met, and I acknowledge him in my book. Real heroes still exist, and Aleksandr Talanov is my dedication to that man."
The book, however, is much more than a tribute to heroism. While undeniably a thriller inspired by an actual KGB agent, it is also "an impossible love story," in Turner's own words, "with a heartbeat that has been described as "addictive" . . . "emotional" . . . and "gritty," with Talanov himself being called "a dark, sexy hero for the new millennium" by national bestselling author, Jordan Dane.
UK reviewer Daniel Cann described Talanov this way: "Let’s just say that by the time Talanov is aware of Larisa’s plight and decides to get involved, you are willing him on to do as much damage to the network of criminals who are ruining so many lives as possible. He is like a modern day knight who is going to do all he can to save and avenge the oppressed. But he is also dealing with grief, guilt and self-loathing. The novel is very raw in that respect, and you can feel his fury and rage pulsing from the page. That made it more exciting for me as this is not a case of a cool, calm operative going about his job, but rather an angry and vulnerable man who wants answers and is willing to risk all to bring the wrongdoers to task. All I can say is when people read this they should expect their jaws to clench, their knuckles to go white, and above all to think 'Go get them!'"
For Greco's Game, Turner decided to participate in a virtual tour with Pump Up Your Book, who will be facilitating Turner's 2012 Greco's Game Virtual Book Tour, which will run September 10 through October 12. A big factor for Turner was being able to connect with readers and bloggers who may not be able to attend one of his limited bookstore appearances.
Says Pump Up Your Book's vice president, Tracee Gleichner: "Readers love the ability to connect with authors, with the advantage of a virtual tour being that readers and fans never have to miss out. As for Greco's Game, when I first saw the cover, I was intrigued. I'm no chess expert but I loved the photo of the chess pieces, and the synopsis was almost too good to pass up. Who wouldn't want to read a book about a the Russian Mafia and a former KGB agent?"
For the Greco's Game virtual book tour, readers and bloggers will be able to connect with the author during a series of guest appearances on more than a dozen blogs. There will be reviews and interviews, and even an occasion where Turner interviews Talanov and asks questions suggested by readers. "Aside from the nuggets provided in my two books about Talanov's background, there are other things people want to know about this real-life fictional character," Turner says. "So, in essence, I'll be letting Talanov answer those questions himself. It will give readers a candid peek into the experiences and events that made him who he is."
There will also be a host of free books to be given away on the tour, including a free Kindle Fire eBook reader and a beautiful, carved wooden Russian chess set. Full details and a schedule of appearances can be found on Turner's Pump Up Your Book website page, at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: Greco's Game
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: Comfort Publishing
ISBN (trade paper) 978-1-936695485
ISBN (eBook) 978-1-936695843
Synopsis & purchase links: http://www.jameshoustonturner.com/
Tour & interview schedule: http://www.toouglytour.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A native of Kansas, JAMES HOUSTON TURNER turned to writing fiction as a result of his years as a smuggler behind the old Iron Curtain. He has organized secret midnight meetings with informants, located hidden mountain bunkers, and investigated legends of forgotten tunnels buried beneath the cobblestones and bricks of some of Central Europe’s most venerated cathedrals.
His bestselling novel, Department Thirteen, first in his "Talanov thriller series," was voted the USA Book News "Best Thriller of 2011," after which it won gold medals in the 2012 Independent Publisher ("IPPY") Book Awards (thriller/suspense)
A former journalist in Los Angeles and self-confessed "pizza nut," James holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Baker University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Houston - Clear Lake. He and his wife, Wendy, a former triathlon winner, live in Adelaide, South Australia.
Additional information about James and his books may be found at http://www.jameshoustonturner.com.