“Shame, Shame, I Know Your Name” is the second thriller in the Marina Konyeshna series by Heather Harlen. Human trafficking remains the driving force behind the plot in this book as well. Its fast-paced dialogue and action kept me turning the pages. Marina’s irrepressible personality makes her a highly likable protagonist. Her fresh inner dialogue, utilizing her innate wit and intelligence, provides readers with suspense, danger and drama in Moscow’s soup kitchens to its night clubs.
This novel starts and ends in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where danger lurks in the shadows. As Marina prepares to leave her small-town life, her tumultuous relationships with her mother and sister are portrayed with honesty. Her friends and family are totally against her Russian travel plans. She blunders ahead without thinking things through, perhaps a symptom of her attention deficit disorder, though she is conscientious about taking her Adderall every day.
Marina’s latest adventures exceed all expectations. She’s again recruited by Cassidy, the television travel documentary host, to fight human trafficking. This time Marina leaves behind the Pennsylvania mines that nearly doomed her in the first book of the series for the harrowing streets and nightclubs of Moscow. She impersonates a mega Russian rock star who just happens to be her exact double. This assignment has its own set of dangers. Before long, we find Marina being drugged and kidnapped at a nightclub. She’s forced to deliver a small package of heroin at a Moscow train station the next day in exchange for her freedom.
Marina’s quick thinking and feisty spirit make her a memorable heroine. The plot thickens as Marina is recruited to work with Russia’s richest woman. The pacing is as fast as Marina’s first-person point of view voice can go, and -- trust me -- she is one fast talker!
The author, Heather Harlen, served in the Peace Corps in Russia in from 1997-1999. Her knowledge of Russia and her familiarity with Moscow could not be obtained in a library or Google search. I traveled in Russia as a tourist, and Harlen’s descriptions and details of Russia in this novel are on the money. Her use of Russian words and expressions throughout the novel impart an aura of authenticity.
This novel is particularly pertinent due to all the news coming out of Moscow recently. Harlen creates a variety of Russian characters who will hopefully help us all realize there is much more to Russia than the distorted caricatures we see through the media on a daily basis.
“Shame, Shame, I Know Your Name” is a fun, quick read, though not a light, forgettable one. This novel leaves the reader with a lot to ponder long after reading. Personally I am anxious to read book three of the Marina Konyeshna thriller trilogy!
Reviewer Cheryl Bazzoui is a writer from Bradford. She writes under the pen name Ann McCauley and recently released the book "Pressure Cooker Christmas."