a novel by Mark Perakh

A few weeks after the end of WW2, some Soviet officers stationed in Czechoslovakia sold Army's trucks to a gang of crooks and framed a young private Telenkin for their action. Facing the court martial, Telenkin deserted. He surfaced in Palestine and joined a gang that was abducting British girls and selling them into harems of rich Arab sheikhs. Five years later, in 1950, Telenkin surfaced in the USA. When Telenkin died of cancer in 1987, his fortune was estimated close to $ 100,000,000.

A Beverly Hills lawyer Slotkin who is the executor of Telenkin's will and also Telenkin's distant relative, locates Telenkin's next of kin, a Dmitry Kravetz, in the city of Odessa, in the USSR.

If the Soviets learned about the inheritance, a lion share of the fortune would go to the state, Kravetz's part being next to nothing. Slotkin wants to tell Kravetz about the inheritance without revealing it to the Soviet authorities, and to help Kravetz emigrate. When Kravetz is safely in the West, Telenkin's will can be implemented. Slotkin tries to contact Kravetz in Odessa. Kravetz has vanished.

Enter Terry Migdal, a Hollywood stuntman, aspiring to become an actor, and also a distant relative of Slotkin. He speaks fluent Russian. Terry is in a scrape. His girlfriend has walked out on him, his career is in a shambles, and he is in jail falsely accused of assaulting a movie star.

Slotkin bails Terry out. He wants Terry to go to Russia, and to find Kravetz. There is no time to apply for a visa to the USSR. Terry will be traveling to the USSR clandestinely. If Terry successfully completed the mission, Slotkin would get for Terry, as a reward, a part in a movie.

In Odessa, Terry locates Kravetz's trail. He follows it from one city to another, puzzled by strange stories he hears about his quarry in every place the elusive man had, time and time again, left on the eve of Terry's arrival. From Odessa to Nalchik in North Caucasus, from Batumi at the border with Turkey to Lake Baikal in Siberia, from the mountain peaks of Central Asia to Kherson in the Ukraine, Kravetz's and, hence, Terry's path meanders through the vast expanses of the Soviet empire. The KGB is on Terry's heels. Then Terry becomes a suspect in a murder and, besides the KGB, also the criminal police are after him. At an early stage of his journey, Terry falls in love with Oksana, a Kravetz's niece. Finally, with Oksana's help, Terry has caught up with Kravetz. His problem is now to safely get out of Russia. His last dangerous stunt requires all of his skill, willpower and determination...

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