Dearly Departed


     The second book in the Maggie series opens with an opening—exhumation of the body of a glamorous Russian-born film star, a woman who was both a double agent working for Maggie and a one-time lover of Maggie’s enigmatic boss at the Bureau (that same “dour, mean-spirited,” albeit “devastatingly handsome,” guy). What happens under the watchful eyes of winged marble cherubs, looking down as the crypt is opened, is enough to cause the delicate sculptures to fly off their chiseled perches.

Here is a true international spy story, with intelligence and counterintelligence plots, secrets and tantalizing revelations, assignations and trickery in Prague, St. Petersburg, and in an antique hearse.

     The departed, Tanya Langfeld (born Tasya Petrova) was a successful screen actress in Russia when US director Miles Mayheun signed her for a film epic already underway in Hollywood. US audiences immediately embraced the touchingly beautiful, charismatic Tanya and could not get enough of her. Before leaving Moscow, she already was deeply involved with X, chief of the First Directorate of the FSB (formerly the FBI). Once she had become a darling of the detested Americas, he moved in (only emotionally) and convinced her that she should spy for Russia. Easily swayed, she agreed. And then, later, when she met the irresistible (to all females but Maggie) Logan MacLean, he implored her to spy against the detested Russians. The result? Double-agent psychological disconnection.

     Enter into the plot a highly respected, popular atmospheric scientist who apparently committed suicide by hurricane, an elderly Chinese widow with all the answers, a dead body in Maggie’s bedroom, and the plot thickens like her perfectly done Vin de Marchand sauce.