Death on the Silk Road

Death on the Silk Road: Russell R. Miller


Why would a retired CIA international executive be involved with a consulting project for a global banking corporation and then get roped into working with his handler at Langley to find out more about what the communists? Kazakhstan is now becoming a major oil supplier and has access to every mineral in the world. So, what does this have to do with our story? Meet Charlie Connelly the retired international executive who the CIA reached out to by way of his handler a man called Mr. Valentine. Let’s start from the beginning where the author shares the history of the Silk Road, its significance as a means of conveying, “rare and precious metals such as gold, lead and zinc. What about rubies, jade, ivory and glass. These precious items destined for the royal courts of Western Europe. The history is described in the introduction and the renewal of the New Great Game playing out on a huge and deadly geopolitical chessboard between some heavy players: the United States, the UK, and supporting NATO to countries against Russia and the Republic of China. This is one very unpredictable area, which can blow at any time. Death on the Silk Road: Where will the murder take place?


The author allows the reader inside the mind and life of Emmett Valentine and his assistant Roger. We learn more about his past, his reasons for wanting to enlist Charlie’s help and the sudden death of one of his agents. The author shares a lot of the history of Russia the dangers he’s encountered in the past and what he hopes to accomplish by having Charlie Connelly on his team. Enter Victor St. Clair whose connection with Valentine is quite close and their relationship tight. Now the head of the Global Bank Corp in Vienna these older men worked together for many years. Each one loves their countries and each one shared experiences in the past that would bond them for life. Valentine does not have the resources that other agencies have and since he is really working under the radar, he does not have access to the funds that most working for the CIA would normally have. Needing manpower after losing an agent and hiring Roger right out of school, Charlie was the answer to his prayers. The author includes the history behind how the FBI broke up a ring of 11 Russian spies in the United States and keeps the reader on edge before sharing Charlie’s mission. Then the author enlightens the reader as to how Charlie came to work with Emmett and the start of their relationship. So, why did Charlie feel bound to help him when he promised his wife he would not? With his decision made the author introduces Charlie’s traveling companions of the team that will handle this mission. Flying to Almati we learn about the group that he will be working with and the history of the country he will be going to. Some of the men looked Asian, some working for one government agency or another. Another looked like Russian business managers. Some Europeans. The final group on the plane that caught his attention was an elderly couple. But, Charlie was bored and the author shares his thoughts about a previous trip to the Central Asian Republics.


Called Operation Silk Road Emmett wastes no time in contacting Charlie when he lands relating to him about the death of an agent and explains he is going to the mine for the banking company with the people described on the plane. Arriving at Global Bank Corp’s Almaty office the author describes the building and the surroundings. But, first the head of Global Bank introduces himself and asks the members of the team that have arrived to tell something about themselves and then he describes the project and what is expected of them. When the team was assembled and everyone introduced themselves the project was described and the requirements told.


Every step of the way the author relates back to the history of each character, their previous missions leading up to this one. As Charlie and the group assembled enter the mineshaft what they find starts a chain reaction of events alerting a killer that the secret buried within the mine was found. Five dead miners and then the fact that a rare earth metal was at the center of these killings. Someone did not want the Chinese to overtake the mine. Someone was linked to al Qaeda and was hiding in plain sight. Each of the members of the team had their own issues, their own specific jobs but when two were found missing and then dead and another attacks Charlie what would the end result be. As the mine in Tekeli contains a rare earth element neodymium in addition to the lead and zinc that they knew was there. But, even with all of the deaths the project had to be completed the recommendations made but just who was behind the murders and who tried to kill Charlie? That was just the tip of the iceberg because someone close to the project was leaking information. There was a mole in someone’s organization and only one person figured that out. What happens at the end will definitely surprise the reader? As Trevor Gunn and Roger Pembroke race the clock to get Charlie and those remaining out danger. Trapped by a snowstorm they would have to do some careful planning to rescue them and hopefully find a killer. Members of the project dead, Charlie’s handler trying to figure out who is who, and how they would stop this Islamic group from competing with China and Russia to take over this mine. Just what happens and if he makes it out you will have to read for youself. What is the end result of the Silk Road Project and what is Charlie’s decision for the future? Find out when you read this novel by author Russell R. Miller. Mining is dangerous in itself and those that take the chance of going down do more than just risk their lives. The research about the mining industry, the history and the photos at the end will allow the reader to take the journey along with this reviewer back to the beginning and find your own path down that Silk Road.


Fran Lewis: reviewer