I do love a good spy novel, and Khoury is one of the best out there! I’ve read all of his books. I recall his past novels as being along the lines of cracking codes, solving puzzles, and ancient conspiracy theories. This one was a little less puzzle and more straight spycraft: double agents, top secret reports, crime syndicates and blackmail- all the good stuff!
Instead of harking back to the mysteries of the ancients, Rasputins Shadow visits the recent past: Russia in the early 1900s, right before the royal family was killed in the Revolution. A fictional sidekick of Rasputin leaves diaries that are later discovered by his grandson, Solokov. The diaries tell the grandson how to develop a very dangerous technology. Cue the spies, defectors, Korean gangs, and car chases.
The key to the story (both past and present) is a dangerous weaponized technology. I don’t want to give away what it is, but I do wish it had been explained a little more a little earlier in the book. Copious hints were dropped, but I had to basically re-read the historical portions after the details were made more clear.
Russians have traditionally been our primary nemesis in spy novels. After the end of the Cold War, there was an increase in other antagonists: Middle Eastern and Chinese, primarily. Its interesting to me that suddenly spy novels are focusing on Russia again.
You might like: Ghost Man, Hobbs. Romanov Cross, Marsello. Amber Room, Berry. also Rollins and Kuzneski.