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Full Name: Aleksandr "Alex" Mikhailevich Talanov
Nationality: Russian
Organization: KGB/CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: James Houston Turner
Time Span: 1999 - 2020


Aleksandr Talanov is an agent of the KGB.

He is also an agent with the CIA.

He was the former for quite a few years before deciding to be the latter.

As an excellent synopsis provided by his chronicler explains"

"Since his youth, Talanov was destined to be part of the [KGB] - or the internal security and foreign intelligence agency of the old Soviet Union. His father, Mikhail Ivanevich Talanov, was reportedly killed when he was an infant, with his addict mother, Nina, dying from a narcotics overdose when he was four. Alex was subsequently handed over to his elderly maternal grandparents, who lived in a ninth floor Moscow flat. The grandparents, however, couldn't cope, so he was turned over to State minders, who immediately noticed his athletic and educational abilities and placed him in the Komsomol - the Communist Youth Organization - where he would be taught the fighting and philosophical skills needed to advance him to the KGB. It was here that he was taught Combat Sambo, where he rose to the rank of Black Belt, his instructor preferring the traditional belt system of rating over the cumbersome "razryad" system most sambists employed. It was also here that he learned how love was a weakness and vulnerability that an enemy could exploit. It was here, at age sixteen, that he became known as Ledyano chelovek - the "ice man" - cold, calculating, charming and capable, yet possessing an unusual idealism about fairness, which his minders fed with Communist propaganda about the evils and decadence of the West.

"Feeding on their words like a carnivore feeds on flesh, Talanov was rewarded with entrance into the Surveillance College in Leningrad, where his achievements resulted in an appointment to the analysis section of Directorate 7 (responsible for the monitoring of Soviet nationals and foreigners). His contributions in the area of surveillance and security soon led to a promotion to Directorate 9 (the KGB Protection Service, which included the 40,000-man uniformed bodyguard for Party leaders and families, as well as the protection of government installations, especially those containing nuclear weapons). In Directorate 9, he was mentored by the great Dimitri Lazovic, who chose him to coordinate the physical protection of Party leadership. It was here that Talanov came to the attention of Yuri Andropov, whose appreciation for saving his life resulted in his being selected for the Moscow State Institute for International Relations. After graduating, he was promoted to the rank of colonel - the youngest in KGB history - and assigned to The First Chief Directorate, which was responsible for foreign espionage and KGB operations abroad. Segmented into eleven geographical regions, the First Chief Directorate saw to the placement of intelligence officers in legal positions in embassies and elsewhere abroad. Talanov oversaw those assignments as well as provided analytical support to various sub-directorates and services, as well as personal assistance to Andropov on a number of secret assignments."

It looked like Talanov was set for life in his career path. But that would change. As he tells his wife at the time, "Communism on paper is what attracted my idealistic hopes: equality for all, freedom from oppression...that sort of thing. But over time, I became aware of all the things I had not been taught: that communism outside the classroom was really state capitalism... the government's elite taking from others what they wanted for themselves. It's why communism can never work, and why I began helping the CIA bring it down...not that anyone in Washington cared."

That is the Talanov we are able to follow. He was a very good agent. He became an even better double agent. He explains elsewhere why he is so good at his work with "You want to catch a rat, you need to think like a rat and go where he goes but get there ahead of him. The old cats upstairs don't know how to do that. They've been in the house too long. They give their advice and meow when they're told and when everything falls to shit they blame it on somebody else. That's why I do things my way. I'm an alley cat. No one likes alley cats but alley cats know how to get the job done when it comes to rats."


Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1999
Last Appearance:2020

1 Department Thirteen Department Thirteen
Written by James Houston Turner
Copyright: 1999

"Department Thirteen -- the assassination and sabotage unit of the KGB -- never officially existed, but retired KGB colonel Aleksandr Talanov knows that it did.
It's but one of the many secrets he's worked hard to forget. 
Now living in Australia, Talanov and dozens of dinner guests are suddenly the target of assassins.
Talanov and his wife are mistakenly spared, but soon find themselves running for their lives: hunted by the killers, blamed by the police, increasingly pivotal to an invisible network of death about which they know nothing.
But someone thinks they know."
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2 Greco's Game Greco's Game
Written by James Houston Turner
Copyright: 2011

"Talanov is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can't, and it's an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes. 
Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him. 
But in the seedy world of human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, Larisa made the mistake of stealing the ice man's wallet. In it was Talanov's sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin's bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. 
Or was it a mistake? "
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3 November Echo November Echo
Written by James Houston Turner
Copyright: 2013

A prequel.
The year is 1985. The US and USSR had signed a bio weapons treaty over a decade before. While the US had destroyed large amounts of their weapons, the USSR had not. When a Russian scientist plans to defect and reveal the truth, Talanov is ordered to bring him back. A betrayal results in Talanov and a teenage girl named Noyabr (November) being hunted by the KGB.
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4 Dragon Head Dragon Head
Written by James Houston Turner
Copyright: 2020

"One and a half billion dollars vanishes out of a numbered account into a cyberspace maze. But the thief who stole it lies dead on the tracks of Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway, his access codes having perished with him.
If this were simply a matter of missing money, the United States would not be concerned. But a Hong Kong crime boss named Dragon Head wants the money to fund an army of hackers, one of whom has already penetrated America's GPS network. The result: a midair collision that kills more than a thousand people.
With national security at stake, the Director of National Intelligence becomes very interested in the whereabouts of that money. He wants the funds to remain lost. But Dragon Head wants them found. And Colonel Aleksandr Talanov is caught in the middle."
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An idealist who does not care. That is sort of how I would describe Talanov. He has analyzed Soviet communism for what it really was in his eyes and decided it did not deserve to survive so he started to help push it off the ledge by aiding the other side. But he does so in a very cold, practical manner. Icy.

Then there is the business about being married to someone he wishes he could love. Now that is both cold (not loving) and warm (wanting to). Again another aspect of Talanov that seems conflicting.

A very interesting and intriguing man, out Talanov. And not one I would want hunting me - he is very good at it - or helping me - which side is he really on?


My Grade: B+


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