Elizabeth Moynihan, a New York journalist, has hit the jackpot. It's 1996 and a chance remark has sent her to a small farm in Colorado. There resides Russia's most notorious sniper-turned-spy, the one-time beautiful assassin, Tat'yana Levchenko, and Elizabeth knows this story could make her career.
When Elizabeth convinces the obstinate and embittered Tat'yana that it is now safe to tell the truth, the old lady begins the story of a mother so devoted to her beautiful daughter that when, aged just four, her child was shot down and killed by a German pilot, all she had to live for was revenge. Enlisting immediately as a sniper, Tat'yana soon racked up three hundred kills and became her nation's most celebrated soldier.
But it couldn't last forever, and when she was badly injured during a siege, her superiors had new plans. Eleanor Roosevelt had asked for her to visit the US and tour the nation in a bid to help the war effort.
For the Russian army, it was an excellent opportunity to spy for her country. For Tat'yana, it was the chance of a new life.
In 1942, heroic Red Army sniper Tat'yana Levchenko, the eponymous heroine of this mildly compelling WWII-era thriller from White (Soul Catcher), travels to America as a goodwill ambassador. Her ostensible mission is to drum up financial and material support for the U.S.S.R. and to persuade FDR to open a second front in Europe. Stalin's secret police have other goals in mind, but Tat'yana wants only to return to her beloved homeland and continue killing German soldiers. Eleanor Roosevelt takes a shine to the young woman, who becomes the darling of the American press. Reluctantly, the beautiful sniper goes along with her espionage agent handler's demand that she spy on the first lady. In the end, Tat'yana must make a fateful choice involving an American army captain she's grown to love. Some readers may find Tat'yana's ethical and romantic struggles in the U.S. a letdown after the first part of the novel detailing her actions in the battle of Sevastopol.