LIBRARY JOURNAL-It took conniving Russian aristocrats numerous attempts with poison, knife, gun, fists, and icy water to murder mad monk Grigori Rasputin. But the lethal bullet was English, per recent findings. Gelatt fictionalizes the alleged shooter as Cleary, a young British intelligence agent who must supervise this assassination but finds himself an unwilling collaborator. While history presents a nasty-enough thriller to work with, Gelatt's command of character makes this attempt particularly successful. From hapless Cleary to the perverse yet likable nobles, the swaggering chief of the tsar's police, and Cleary's prickly Bolshevik crush, the characters seem to wear their dialog, not just speak it. Their grimy romanticism conjures an unsavory history when nobody had clean hands. VERDICT Gelatt never lets us forget that real people create history, and he asks, What if those people were us? Crook's semirealistic, sepia-washed art lends just the right aura of a dangerous time that we may want to glimpse but certainly not relive. Recommended for history buffs and thriller lovers, as well as a curative for those who think history is boring. With violence and some sexual situations.