Tidewater Review - December 2011

Night Undone

reviewed by

Anne Stinson

Night Undone by K. S. Brooks. Cambridge Books. 272 pp. Paperback. $18.95.
Kat Brooks has done it again. The second adventure in her Cover Me Series of Agent Kathrin Night immerses our heroine in danger, espionage and romance – not in that order, but simultaneously.
In brief, the reader is introduced to Kathrin and her bedmate – get ready for this – Aleksey Vladmirovich Khovechkin, a former Russian Federal Security Service Agent. (This may not be the time to inject this coincidence into the story, but later in the action, it is revealed that he’s a hockey star and his fictional name is startlingly like that of the real D.C. Capitals’ Russian-born hockey player Ovechkin).
Aleksey is not happy with his role as Kathrin’s babysitter. Her most recent assignment was in Afghanistan, where she saved a Russian diplomat from an assassin. In the rescue her ankle was shattered, and she was accompanied back to America by Aleksey, a bodyguard assigned to protect her during convalescence by a grateful Russian government.
Proximity and a secret hideaway in the mountains led to trust between the pair of spies who have become lovers as the book begins.
Which is not to say that their shared profession means they’re like peas in a pod. To put it bluntly, Kathrin’s tunnel vision for anti-terrorism work has kept her untutored in the maze of personal feelings. At age 40, her total focus has been based on observation, caution, practice on the shooting range, the blasting range, hours at her computers tracking terrorist threats all over the globe – fun stuff like that.
She’s had men friends, always colleagues, but has never been on an actual date. She’s had little interpersonal exchange – she’s more machine than human. Aleksey is equally handicapped – hockey is still his secret passion. Until he met Kathrin, that is.
He tricks her into going to see a shrink for couple’s counseling.
Meanwhile, Aleksey has a phone call from his former boss, Yuri. The message? Come back home, boy. We need you back at the bureau. Kathrin intuits that he doesn’t want to return to Russia except to visit his mother and brother, so she suggests that they combine their skills to write a training manual for Russian agents and then Aleksey can turn down Yuri’s offer for him to come back into the spook fold.
Kathrin literally cannot make her lips say “I love you” in response to Aleksey’s avowal as he boards the plane for Moscow. For someone smart enough to have been in charge of United Nations security for 10 years before trotting around the globe snuffing bad guys, she’s not the most savvy lady on the block. The shrink is trying to untangle her, though, so there’s hope.
Just in case the big lug returns to America, Kathrin fills his absence with a gift. She has a professional hockey rink installed in a meadow at the hideaway house. He has previously confided that he won an Olympic Gold Medal in the sport before he was coerced into secret spying.
He phones her every night from his motherland, and she calls him back once on their secure phones and blurts out that she misses him and loves him. He’s in Yuri’s office when he takes the call. Just before he hangs up, she hears him say, “Where do I sign?”
Oops! Sleepless nights. Floor pacing. Tears. She’ll never see him again! Followed by a whirlwind of misinterpretation, reconciliation, a chance for Aleksey to try out for the Russian hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics and happiness forever after.
Oh, and they nearly accidentally kill each other in the interim. Plus, instead of tinkling piano in the next apartment, they sweat out confinement in a stinking apartment over a Chinese restaurant with a suspicious staff.
It’s a real potboiler of a novel, one this reviewer could not put down.
Brooks has also written one novel, Lust for Danger, in the Agent Night Adventure Series, two in the Cover Me Series, The Kiss of Night preceding Night Undone, and three books promoting outdoor learning and literacy, The Mighty Oak and Me, Postcards from Mr. Pish: A Cross Country Journal and Mr. Pish’s Woodland Adventure.
A former resident of Cambridge, Kat Brooks now lives in Washington State.

Anne Stinson began her career in the 1950s as a free lance for the now defunct Baltimore News-American, then later for Chesapeake Publishing, the Baltimore Sun and Maryland Public Television’s panel show, Maryland Newsrap. Now in her ninth decade, she still writes a monthly book review for Tidewater Times.