3 out of 4 stars
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It is difficult to review a book like Rasputin's Nephew by Marc Seifer. On one hand, the story is full of all the right kind of thrills—a page turner. On the other hand, much of the included technical information was beyond my comprehension and sort of settled into an uneasy blur after a while.
Rudy, a journalist from New York, is caught between his girlfriend and his job. Rudy is tracking a story that connects ESP, psychokinesis, mental telepathy, and other paranormal topics. Meanwhile, some unknown person is going around destroying all copies of a particular book that deals with these very topics. To be more specific, this person is destroying the first edition of the book. While Rudy is researching, he discovers that several prominent professionals in the psychic phenomena fields have mysteriously died. Before Rudy knows half of what is going on, he himself becomes a target!
On the other side of the world, Mother Russia is sore at losing the Cold War. The highest officials have determined to wage another war and win at all costs. Human experiments, strange events, more suspicious deaths, seemingly super-human people... All this and more fill the pages of Rasputin's Nephew. Those who know anything about Russia's czarist history, will recognize Rasputin. From historical reports, Rasputin had legendary powers. Although he largely works in shadows, the descendant of Rasputin also has abilities that no one can explain.
A young Russian doctor, Imo, is working with a medical group studying the brain, including those areas that are largely dismissed by scientists, such as ESP and telepathy. While observing the experiments others are doing, Imo gradually becomes disillusioned with the work.
What will happen to Rudy? Will he find out the truth behind the mysterious deaths and the disappearing book? Will he survive the assassination attempts on his life? Is Abdulla Manu a fake? Can Manu really levitate people and objects, bend objects, channel mysterious entities and emit multi-colored lights? What choices will Imo make? The answers are not easy in coming, but the ends are all tied up by the last page.
I loved the action in this book, as well as the conspiracies. The topic is fascinating, although I have to admit, I found it hard to understand the technical terms. At times, large sections were devoted to how ESP, etc., is supposed to work scientifically. Much of that flew over my head so high that I could never capture it back again. I was uncomfortable with the amount of graphic descriptions of both violence and intimacy. I realize much of this was inextricably integrated as part of the plot itself, but I would not recommend this to anyone who does not wish to have these things explicitly written out. I also would not recommend anyone who is not interested in reading minute details concerning scientifically technical subjects. The author includes an abundance of resources, which tells me that there is at least some truth tucked inside this story.
Overall, the plot moved along smoothly, except for the large sections of technical explanations, as I mentioned before. Characters were well-drawn, but there were a lot of characters! The plethora of characters created some confusion as I was not always sure which characters were "evil, "good," or "neutral." This started getting sorted out somewhere in the middle. Throughout the entire book, I found only one error in spelling. Due to too many characters to keep track of and the overwhelming amount of technical explanations, I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.
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