Thriller Michael Hetzer The Forbidden Zone

ISBN 13: 9780061030451

The Forbidden Zone

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9780061030451: The Forbidden Zone

The Soviet Union, 1984. For One Man, The End May Be Nearer Than He Knows.

World-renowned astrophysicist Victor Perov had always prided himself on being a loyal Communist with an unwavering allegiance to Party ideals and a lifelong commitment to the state. But that was before Katherine Sears, the American scientist he has fallen hopelessly in love with, risks her life to reveal a shattering secret. Victor's twin brother, Anton, supposedly killed in action in Afghanistan, may be alive in a brutal government psychiatric gulag--a dissident with explosive information that could bring those in power to their knees.

Desperate to outwit the KGB and save the woman he loves, Victor searches for the truth--a dangerous journey that will lead him into a forbidden zone where trust is scarce and freedom only a dream; a place where a corrupt old guard desperately fights to keep the truth forever classified, no matter what the cost.

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Review:

Tolstoy would have approved of the way Michael Hetzer uses large chunks of recent Russian history to build his strong and poignant first thriller. Hetzer--who edited an English-language newspaper in Moscow from 1990 to 1995 and witnessed the vast changes that swept the country--begins his story in the 1980s, as American astrophysicist Katherine Sears and Russian colleague Victor Perov join for a research project and a love affair. Their relationship, already complicated by the fact that Victor's mother is a top government official, becomes even more dangerous when Katherine discovers that Victor's brother, Anton, didn't really die in Afghanistan but is a dissident being held prisoner in a psychiatric gulag.

Aided by a disillusioned KGB agent, Katherine and Victor begin a search for Anton that takes them not only to the vast wastes of Siberia but also back in time, into a mystery that began 40 years before. Hetzer uses the 1940s poetry of the marvelous Anna Akhmatova like background music--"We're not good at saying good-bye / We wander around, shoulders touching. / It's begun to get dark already, / You look vacant, I say nothing"--and it sets the perfect tone of guilt and regret. --Dick Adler

From the Inside Flap:

The year is 1984. The place, the Soviet Union. A struggling country awaiting the cure of "perestroika." For too many Russians, this land has become the Forbidden Zone.

In the waning days of the Cold War, Victor Perov, a brilliant Soviet scientist, agrees to a joint Soviet-American astrophysics project. Victor's faith in Communism and the Party is unwavering, but his impassioned scientific alliance with Katherine Sears, an American astrophysicist, quickly becomes romantic.

When Katherine learns that Victor's twin brother, Anton, a dissident believed killed in action in Afghanistan, is actually imprisoned somewhere in the Soviet psychiatric gulag, she risks her life to inform Victor. With the KGB hot on her trail and the American Embassy in Moscow powerless, Katherine must flee into the Soviet countryside, and Victor is left to grapple with a truth that pits him against his own mother, a high-ranking Soviet minister known as the Iron Perova.

Everywhere Victor turns, he is met with icy communist silence -- and anyone willing to talk seems to be turning up dead. The further he searches, the deeper he must dig into a painful period of Mother Russia's history. His career, his family and his life at risk, Victor must learn whom to trust in this deadly game of Party politics in order to save the woman he loves and his twin brother.

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