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The Ghosts of Kyiv


In Moscow, Olga Ranevskaya, head of the Kremlin’s undercover operations, plots revenge on France. Vladimir Putin wants to use his security forces to punish France for supporting the Ukranians : the Russian secret service have managed to discreetly steal a batch of antiaircraft missiles supplied by France to Kyiv. Their goal: get them into the hands of an Islamist group so that they can destroy French planes and airports.

Edgar Van Scana, the best of French agents, is determined to foil the Russian maniacal plan. But in Ukraine, Edgar moves ahead like a ghost… He only has two pieces of information: the picture of an arms cache, without any indication of the date the photo was taken or the location, and a code name: Fire Tornado.

But what chances does he have in the face of the Russian intelligence juggernaut, especially when the mission is headed by Olga Ranevskaia, and Vladimir Vladimirovitch Poutine is out for cold-blooded vengeance.

A thrilling story of power, shadow & revenge
The secret war of intelligence agents
A high-octane international intrigue

Author's interview

A gripping espionage novel, The Ghosts of Kyiv echoes the Russian aggression against Ukraine, plunging the reader into the secret wars of intelligence agents. What is this maniacal scenario that your hero, Edgar, the best of the French spies, tries to foil?

Through its military, financial and diplomatic support, the West has enabled Ukraine to inflict heavy defeats on the Russian army. If going to war with NATO is not an option, all Western governments know that the Kremlin will not hesitate to try to punish his ennemies.
In The Ghosts of Kyiv, the Russian secret service have managed to discreetly steal a batch of anti-aircraft missiles supplied by France to Ukraine. Their goal: get them into the hands of an Islamist group and thus have French planes destroyed and airports paralysed. The book – pure fiction, by the way – chronicles the search efforts led by Edgar Van Scana, one of the French Intelligence Services’ best black agents, to find the missiles before the worst happens and disrupt the Russian operations.

Your book is extremely well documented on the strategies developed by the secret intelligence services. Where does this exceptional knowledge come from?

In the same way that most authors of crime novels are not policemen themselves, you don’t need to be a former intelligence agent to write credible spy novels. But it does require access to accurate and reliable information and a very good understanding of the way a national state functions.
I was lucky enough to start my professional life at the French Ministry of Finance in the department of money-laundering control of foreign investments in France, as well as on international financial sanctions against Iraq, Serbia and Libya. Our regular correspondents were the main French intelligence services, which proved to be an unparalleled source of information. Then, as a diplomat in London, I continued to work on the mechanisms of international financial sanctions, together with our Western partners.
Life is made up of encounters. During the time I worked for the French authorities, I’ve met many people, some of whom have become close friends over the years. So when I started writing espionage thrillers, it was only natural that I turned to them to help me make my novels as realistic as possible.

The intelligence service of the Russian Federation’s army are at the centre of your novel. What are their specificities?

Edgar Van Scana, my hero, faces the 29155 Unit, an elite group of the GRU – the foreign military intelligence agency of the Russian army. This very offensive elite Unit is tasked with foreign assassinations and other activities aimed at destabilizing European countries like the elimination, by means of poisons and radioactive weapons, of those who represent an embarrassment to Russian power. The West can
never legally prove that Russia is behind these actions, but everyone knows that the GRU is responsible of these political crimes. This allows the GRU to leave a clear ‘signature’ while cynically denying their involvement. The reader will discover their very special methods throughout the novel.

There’s a real craze for spy novels again. How do you explain it?

This new craze for spy fiction ca be explained by the return of History (with a capital H) in our lives! After the fall of Communism, many of us believed that History has reached an end, that we would no longer suffer from wars, except perhaps economic wars. And now, suddenly, Europe, a «herbivorous» power, has found itself confronted with ferociously carnivorous enemies: Islamic terrorism, and then Putin’s «Russianism». In this cruel war environment, the intelligence agencies are on the front line and this could explain the renewed interest in the men and women of espionage. It is up to us, the authors, to use fiction to shed intelligent light on the complexity of the world. In this respect, I have always been convinced that thrillers are not just a minor genre and that they can really play a special role in understanding geostrategic dynamics.

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