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Rift Zoneby Raelynn Hillhouse
Synopses & Reviews
In the turbulent years after the rise of the Berlin Wall, Germany stood dangerously divided between freedom and Communism. Dodging border patrols and guard posts, a silent few were able to cross the borders of the Iron Curtain to deliver needed supplies, always at the risk of their own lives.
This is the past Faith Whitney knew. The daughter of an active smuggler of religious paraphernalia, Faith was raised on the danger that such a life brought with it, a danger that can rip lives apart, even that of a mother and daughter. Now grown and living in 1989 Germany, Faith continues to smuggle goods across the border, narrowly slipping by the East German Stasi each time.
But her activities haven't gone unnoticed. The Stasi have recruited her to deliver a package to Moscow, a package that must be delivered within forty-eight hours . . . or Faith will be eliminated. Her payment: the long-desired location of her missing father.
The danger mounts as Faith is secretly contacted by the beautiful and seductive Colonel Bogdanov of the KGB, who also wants the package at any cost. Barely surviving harsh interrogations, and unsure of whom to trust, Faith turns to her ex-fiancée, Naval Officer Max Summer, the only man with the know-how to get her and her delivery to Moscow in one piece. On the run, the more they discover about the package, the more they realize that delivering it will likely cost them their lives. Little do they both know that the package is part of a larger plan, one that could affect the result of the Cold War in ways no one ever imagined.
Raelynn J. Hillhouse has constructed an engrossing novel of espionage, action, and heart-pounding danger. Told with knowledge and authenticity, Rift Zone takes you inside the workings of communist East Germany and the Soviet Union.
"Hillhouse's gripping debut, a cold war thriller, has so many unexpected pleasures that its flaws barely register. It's 1989, and American professor Faith Whitney is staying in Germany with the faint (and dimming) hope of learning about her missing father; to make a living, she smuggles minor items (Stalin china, Nazi crystal, etc.) from East Berlin to West. After being captured by the East German Stasi, Faith is forced to smuggle for them or face imprisonment. KGB agent Zara Bogdanov is another antagonist, but a sympathetic one: ambitious and beautiful, she's also openly gay, a strike against her advancement. Capturing Faith and getting her to spy for the KGB would be a feather in Zara's cap, but her motives are unclear, even to herself. Their extended cat-and-mouse game, fueled by a flirty mutual attraction (though Faith is straight), gives an enticing pulse to the sometimes implausible plot. An extended section in which Faith transports hazardous material feels like a climax, but the story continues for another 50-odd pages. The book may be better for its two strong women and its incisive picture of a significant era in recent history than for its thriller elements, but Hillhouse is a welcome new voice. Agent, Bob Diforio. Forecast: Hillhouse, says the promo copy, is a former smuggler, money launderer and rum runner. The zing of true-to-life adventures plus big-name blurbs (from DeMille, Cussler, Gerritsen, etc.) might make this a hit. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A woman who smuggles, spies and lies, Faith Whitney can run just about anything through the seemingly sealed borders of Eastern Europe. Now powerful people want to use her skills to carry out a small part of a massive conspiracy. One fateful day the East German secret police kidnap Faith and make her an offer she can't refuse. If she smuggles a single package into Moscow, the Germans will tell her everything she's always wanted to know about her mysterious father. If she doesn't, she'll be exterminated. As Faith navigates the shadows and back alleys of Berlin and Moscow, she realizes she is being used as a pawn by two nations with very different goals, and her life is not the only thing at stake. Thrown into a plot that may change the course of history, Faith must use every bit of skill and contact she's accumulated through the years to find a way out of this deadly Rift Zone.
A beautiful, cultivated trafficker of contraband on the cusp of Glasnost, Faith Whitney has searched for her father all her life. Zigzagging across Eastern Europe, she constantly pursues elusive, fruitless leads about the shadowy Communist Party hero who'd left her missionary mother a quarter century before. Now the Stasi--East Germany's efficient, ruthless secret police--make Whitney a tantalizing offer. If she'll use her smuggler's savvy to make a Moscow delivery, then they'll deliver Whitney's father, alive and well. And if she doesn't cooperate.... But if she does, she'll be bringing back to power the hard line communists that fear they will lose all in the new world order. In this riveting fast-paced thriller, Raelynn Hillhouse joins the ranks of John LeCarre and Alistair MacLean as a novelist of international intrigue that will keep readers guessing.
About the Author
Raelynn Hillhouse lived for over six years in Central and Eastern Europe and is fluent in several languages. She earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan. A former professor and Fulbright fellow, Raelynn has lectured at such institutions as Harvard, the Smithsonian, and the Soviet Academy of Sciences. She lives on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.
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