Evie has just graduated from college in New York in 1937. Despite her many questions, no one in her family ever will talk about her mysterious grandmother who was apparently married to or the mistress of a Russian general who fled the Soviet Union after the White Army lost the Russian Civil War and managed to make it to Paris. Evie’s mother deflects all of Evie’s questions and acts like a grandmother is a source of family embarrassment. In The White Russian (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99) Vanora Bennet tells the story of well-to-do Evie slipping out of the United States and taking a boat to France. Immediately upon arriving in Paris she meets a young Russian refugee, Jean, who knows her grandmother but seems reluctant to talk about her and somewhat annoyed by Evie’s naive adventure.
Arriving at her grandmother’s house, Evie is given the bad news that the grandmother has just died but has left Evie a will and instructions written in both French and Russian. She asks Jean to translate the Russian note which seems to encourage Evie to locate and protect a mysterious Russian named Zhenya. There may be as many as 100,000 Russian immigrants in France and several thousand are probably named Zhenya. She asks Jean to help but he considers the quest foolish. After several tries, Evie finally talks Jean into helping. Although they can’t seem to find Zhenya, sparks happen, and young Evie now has a handsome Russian lover.
Jean discloses that his secret job is to protect the White Russian leadership in Paris who are plotting a return to the Soviet Union and a revolution to overthrow the Bolsheviks. Even young Evie realizes this an unlikely undertaking but volunteers to help Jean.
Intrigue follows. Soviet spies infiltrate the Whites. Evie is not sure who she can trust and may have learned the secret of Zhenya too late to help. It’s not what I would call a page-turner, but it is interesting, and Evie is a delightful young woman. It you are interested in the history of this era it is a B+. if not, it limps in at a B-.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving, Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. Steve is a 2017 NY Big Book Award winner and a 2018 Independent Book Award recipient. You can purchase his books via http://steveclarkauthor.com/buy-the-book/ or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark, read more reviews or speak directly with Steve? Learn more about Steve at SteveClarkAuthor.com