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Full Name: Zoya Khalatnikova
Series Name: Dirty Little Wars
Nationality: Russian
Organization: CIA
Occupation Freelance Agent

Creator: N. Ludzin
Time Span: 2018 - 2019


Zoya Khalatnikova is a freelance agent.

Initially, when we first meet her, though later she will find it not only advantageous for completing her personal mission but also for staying alive in general, although what she does for the Agency once she agrees to work with them would hardly be considered by normal people as being 'safe'.

Khalatnikova is "the only surviving legitimate child of Maksym Mikhailovich Khalatnikov, the feared Ukrainian obschaka who murdered his own boss then turned one of Russia's smallest crime gangs into a criminal empire that spread throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East".

She will go on to tell us that while it was common in the old days for gangsters, members of the Brotherhood, or Bratva, to not have families of their own, Maksym had different thoughts. He got married. He had children. He had a life outside the gang. Further, while most criminal bosses tried to keep a low profile, Maksym "owned mansions, and threw parties, and bragged about his friendships with invincible oligarchs and senior officers of the KGB". He enjoyed driving around in big expensive cars and he loved to be seen giving large amounts to charities.

Further, and this is important to understand his daughter, "he corrupted officials in every country where he maintained an interest, controlling both the politicians and the crime. He built roads and factories in the villages he needed for smuggling. He used his wealth to buy up the small, independent oil companies that operated in the regions he destabilized. He amassed a vast personal fortune, and I inherited it all".

When Khalatnikova was 12, her father, two older brothers, three uncles, five cousins were all eliminated by her father's enemies. For the next six years, her mother kept her hidden in Poland but when she reached her majority, she "became the stunned majority shareholder of the most profitable oil company in Uzbekistan, and the second most profitable company in Turkmenistan".

Over the next few years, Khalatnikova has played a most dangerous game of being a part of both the upper crust of Russian society and of the criminal organizations. And she watched and listened and learned and used all that any way she could to pass that on to the Western Intelligence organizations, all to hurt those who hurt her family, including a father she never liked at all.

Her relationship with the CIA will come when her own actions reach a point for some very powerful people decide she should cease to bother them by ceasing to exist. The Agency, on the other hand, sees in Khalatnikova an extremely capable, smart, experienced, and dedicated tool they can use against Russia.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2018
Last Appearance:2019

1 The Moscow Escape The Moscow Escape
Written by N. Ludzin
Copyright: 2018

The very rich Zoya Khalatnikova could have anything and do anything she wants. What she chooses to do is to head to Moscow to rescue someone she cares about. Doing so will require not only assuming a different identity but also calling upon old lovers.
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2 The Barcelona Assassin The Barcelona Assassin
Written by N. Ludzin
Copyright: 2018

Zoya knows her anonimity is one of her greatest assets but when the CIA sends her to Spain to locate and protect the legendary ex-KGB analyst Valentin Popov, a man she considered an uncle, they insist she work with a CNI agent there she has no reason to trust.
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3 The Buenos Aries Fugitive The Buenos Aries Fugitive
Written by N. Ludzin
Copyright: 2019

"After the violent murder of ex-KGB analyst, Valentin Popov, Zoya must track down his only son and warn him of the danger coming his way. But finding Nikolai Popov proves easier than saving him, as it becomes clear that he is fighting a war of his own--and losing."


Oh, my, but did I enjoy this series! I loved the writing and the action and the duplicity and the suspense. I probably would have loved Zoya Khalatnikova even more than I do except she kinda really scares me - a lot. She had only a small number of friends whom she would like to keep from getting hurt but considering what she does and who she routinely ticks off, anyone near her is likely to pay for the proximity.

But back to the writing - it is exquisite. It is present tense which I normally cannot stand but it is so well done I forget the fact that I don't like that style. Some of the love scenes undoubtedly bring a flush to my sensitive cheeks and some of the action scenes make me swallow with a deep gulp.

I strongly recommend this fun series.


My Grade: A-


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