Review: The Silent Sisters – Charles Jenkins #3 (Robert Dugoni)

The final(?) book in the Charles Jenkins series has Jenkins once again going to Russia for the Sisters.

The last two Sisters – sleeper agents for the American CIA – have gone radio silent. Jenkins is once again recruited to head to Russia. The mission this time: get the two remaining women exfiltrated and back to the US.

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews my major issue with this series. It’s just fantastically difficult for me to see an over six foot tall, over 200 pound, black spy in Russia able to move around as he was, in a country that is predominantly white. That is (partially) solved, at least at the beginning here, by Jenkins assuming a disguise that involves making him white: mask on the face, long gloves on the hands, and so on. He also enters the country under an assumed ID of a British textile salesman (and hilariously, gets asked by a guard to give the uniform manufacturers something breathable, like cotton, as Moscow is in the throes of a late heat wave).

Jenkins checks in at an out of the way hotel, then goes to a really out of the way dive of a bar, where he does something monumentally stupid: he involves himself in the business of two locals and a woman who is obviously a prostitute. In the alley, he steps in when one of the guys is about to sexually assault the woman. One of the men accidentally shoots the other dead, then runs away, and the prostitute asks Jenkins, “What have you done?”

Good question. As it turns out,the dead guy is the son of the woman who runs one of the most powerful organized crime families in Moscow. Jenkins realizes he’s left a fingerprint behind at the scene.

So now, Jenkins has the mob boss, a cop on the verge of retirement (who is a widower with a perfect record of closing cases, of course), and the head of a division who is looking for a promotion on his tail. But not, amazingly, the FSB, who has a kill order for Jenkins. It would be inconvenient for all these other parties if Jenkins was knocked off.

He manages to get away fro his hotel before anyone comes looking, and gets the first Sister passed on to the person who will then pass her on to another person, etc., until she’s out of the country. There’s very little about her, as the other Sister – Maria, assistant to the head of the division – is the more interesting one.

Quite a good chunk of the middle is taken up by narrative from Maria’s POV, and it is absolutely fantastic. It’s the best part of the entire book, in my opinion.

Eventually, Jenkins and Maria are on the run – there’s an assassin working to eliminate her and capture him, the mob family, the cop, our old friend Federov who used to be FSB, and a heroin dealer whose nickname is The Fly involved and a nice comeuppance at the end for a particularly slimy party.

Overall: a solid four out of five stars, and a good closing to the series. Maybe. Dugoni puts in the afterward that he’s heading to Egypt, so who knows what the future holds for Jenkins. I sense Jenkins might fit in a little better there, but still, 6’+ and 200+ pounds? I suppose we’ll see.

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the reading copy.