Gilead_Justin2 Gilead_Justin1
Full Name: Justin Gilead
Codename: The Grandmaster
Nationality: American
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Warren Murphy
Time Span: 1984 - 1987


Justin Gilead is an agent with the CIA.

Gilead is, in fact, the best agent the CIA has ever had. His archnemesis, Alexander Zharkov, is the head of Russia's most secret Intelligence agency. Both are excellent chess masters with the ability to plan far ahead of most opponents. Both have reasons for hating the other, beyond the ideological differences of their respective countries.

As the series opens, Gilead has been thought dead for four years. When a CIA agent in Russia sends out a golden snake medallion, it alerts his bosses that Gilead is still alive and the rush to reach him starts for both his side and the opposition. The bulk of the two books remain the conflict that occurs after he is back.

This series is really about both characters, though Gilead is truly the main protagonist. Both characters are similar in so many ways. They were born on the same day. They are both chess prodigies, indeed meeting for the first time at the young age of 10 when they had their initial tournament facing. They would both reach chess grandmaster status early and then move into their separate clandestine roles. As similar as they are, however, they are diametrically opposite when it comes to philosophy and morals and for that reason they are the bitterest of enemies.

Even more than a spy series, however, this two-book series is a battleground between good and evil that is played on both the physical and metaphysical stage. Gilead represents the Good side while Zharkov is Evil. Whether these two gentlemen chose their respective sides or the sides chose them is something the reader is left to decide. The authors do a very good job of presenting this conflict inside the cover of espionage work at its finest.


Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1984
Last Appearance:1987

1 Grandmaster Grandmaster
Written by Molly Cochran, Warren Murphy
Copyright: 1984

Gilead was a highly experience agent who died in action four years before. Now evidence exists that he may have survived and is seeking a way to come in from the cold. His archenemy, Zharkov, thought he had killed Gilead once and wants to make sure it sticks this time.

2 High Priest High Priest
Written by Molly Cochran, Warren Murphy
Copyright: 1987

Mysterious deaths of Americans on the streets of Moscow has tension between the two nations even higher than normal. Both Gilead and Zharkov search for the truth but for different reasons.


The plots and subplots of this series will keep you guessing from beginning to end, and that is a good thing. Intricate and compelling, though keeping all the characters straight will be challenging.

Also challenging for me was the heaviness of the Eastern mysticism that pervades these books. However, in truth, I cannot say whether the books are better off or worse for their inclusion.

Whichever it is, read these books. You won't be sorry. Gilead is someone you want on your side, though you will be constantly wondering if your actions are your own decisions or just moves the chess master has planned long before.


My Grade: B


Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

SpyGuysAndGals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and links with the Buy from Amazon button are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.