Are you ready? The wait for the fourth novel in Raymond Khoury’s international bestselling series featuring FBI Agent Sean Reilly is finally over. RASPUTIN’S SHADOW goes on sale in October.
RASPUTIN’S SHADOW opens on a cold, bleak day in 1916. A mining pit in Siberia turns into a bloodbath when its miners attack each other, savagely and ferociously. Minutes later, two men—a horrified scientist and Grigory Rasputin, trusted confidant of the tsar—hit a detonator, blowing up the mine to conceal all evidence of the carnage.
In the present day, FBI agent Sean Reilly is tasked with a new, disturbing case. A Russian embassy attaché seems to have committed suicide by jumping out of a fourth-floor window in Queens. The apartment’s owners, a retired high school teacher and his wife, have gone missing, while a faceless killer is roaming New York City, leaving a trail of death in his wake.
Joined by Russian FSB agent Larisa Tchoumitcheva, Reilly’s investigation into the old man’s identity will uncover a deadly, desperate search for a mysterious device whose origins reach back in time to the darkest days of the Cold War and to Imperial Russia and which, in the wrong hands, could have a devastating impact on the modern world.
Raymond Khoury was born in Beirut. He is a Scorpio, the youngest of three, and he was fourteen when civil war broke out in Lebanon and his parents moved the family to Rye, NY. He stayed there until he graduated from high school, and then moved back to Lebanon to study architecture at the American University of Beirut. Surviving repeated flare-ups of fighting and a couple of invasions, shortly after his college graduation, Khoury was again relocated—this time by the Marine Corp’s 22nd Amphibious Unit. He ended up in London. Bouncing around in his career, he eventually turned to his creative side. He wrote a screenplay that shortlisted him for the Fulbright Fellowship in Screenwriting award, and then a second script that was nominated for the same award a year later. Now after working as a screenwriter and a producer on shows like the BBC series SPOOKS, he is solely focused on his novels. I recently had the great fortune of asking him a few questions.
You have an interesting past—born in Beirut, raised in Rye, New Jersey, educated in Lebanon and France… How does your multi-cultural background influence your work?
I’d say it does in two ways: one is that I love to write large, epic stories that aren’t rooted in one town or city. I travel extensively and try to layer as much of my experience (or reading) into my work. Beyond that, I think my background influenced me to dig into big questions that affect everyone. I grew up in a region ravaged (still) by war, and it gives you a different perspective on life, a broader outlook about what really matters in life and what doesn’t. I don’t think I’d be very good at writing crime fiction, for instance, I don’t read it either. I need stories to be bigger, more epic, stories that entertain while making you curious about life.
Your first creative endeavors were screenplays and the KIRKUS reviewer said, “…it’s the sort of novel that could make a colorful movie.” What made you decide to start writing novels? For example, does it allow you to write about characters in more depth?
THE LAST TEMPLAR was my third screenplay, which I finished in 1996. It had a long, tortured history… I wrote about it in this blog entry a while back.
So it all really happened by fluke… that said, I enjoy writing novels far, far more than screenplays (which I’ve stopped doing). As you say, it allows you to write in much more depth. It also allows me to avoid dealing with directors, studio execs, producers, and not have what I write get bastardized by often competing outside influences… It’s a huge pleasure to have my readers read the exact story I intended to tell.
Your books are billed as Historical Mysteries, but they’re really contemporary mysteries with an historical theme—mostly secrets from the past that if unleashed could wreak havoc on the modern world. What draws you to the historical elements? And are they real or based in reality or just a realistic fabrication?
The trigger to writing a book is always a big theme or question I want to explore–what we really know about the religions we follow, why we age and die, what do we really know about reincarnation, about how our minds work—and a lot of these questions are rooted in history. I love history and I do a lot of research, and rather than have characters talk about this history, I think it’s more fun for us to actually live it—which leads to parallel storylines and flashbacks to characters who lives centuries ago, chapters that appear at points of the story when our contemporary characters reach those “big reveals” in the story.
Are they real or fabrications? Everything I write is rooted in real history. The Templar chapters and all the rest are meticulously researched, but I then layer in my fictional conceit—the Templars’ secret is my fabrication, for instance. In RASPUTIN’S SHADOW, everything that happens in the Rasputin chapters actually happened; the reason they happened, and the character of Misha, are my invention…
What is next in the queue? Can we look forward to another Reilly novel, a standalone, or a TV series based on your work?
RASPUTIN’S SHADOW ends with a big surprise question that needs to be answered–something about Reilly’s past that he never expected. That’ll be the core of the next Reilly novel… and it’ll close out a strand that started in THE DEVIL’S ELIXIR and continued in RASPUTIN’S SHADOW. But there are two other big stories I’ve been researching and working on, standalone novels. So you could say my dance card is pretty filled for the next 3 years or so!
Raymond Khoury resides in London with his wife and two daughters. His books have been translated into over forty languages and, in the case of THE LAST TEMPLAR, adapted for television. For more information on the author and his books, please visit his website, and look for RASPUTIN’S SHADOW on bookstore shelves or in your favorite e-book version today.