THE RUSSIAN: Five Questions with Ben Coes

After eight heart-pounding thrillers following CIA operative Dewey Andreas, New York Times bestselling author Ben Coes is kicking off a brand new series with The Russian

Set in the same universe as his Dewey books, The Russian follows Rob Tacoma—who first popped up in The Last Refuge, Coes’ third book, as a former Navy SEAL who later joined the CIA and then left the National Clandestine Service to start up his own consulting company (with partner Katie Foxx) called RISCON, and has appeared in every book since then, including last summer’s Bloody Sunday—who now officially graduates from fan-favorite supporting character to a starring role. The rest of the cast, though, remains mostly the same, and longtime readers of Coes’ series will recognize a number of faces and surprise cameos along the way. 

Coes opens his latest thrill ride with a powerful Russian mob family assassinating two high-profile United States politicians, prompting the American president to respond by tasking the CIA with assembling a task force of operators to hit back before things get any more out of hand. Tacoma is the first choice, but soon after signing on, things take a dark turn—and before he knows what hit him, Rob finds himself in the most dangerous position of his career.

As bodies continue to pile up around him, Tacoma must find a way to take the fight to the Russians on their own turf, forcing him into the dark underworld where they operate . . . a place where anything goes and only the best of the best walk away alive in the end. 

Returning for the third time, Ben Coes agreed to go back on the record for our Five Questions segment, and this time, I asked him about everything from how he came up with the plot idea for this one to when readers can expect to see Dewey Andreas again. See the whole Q&A below, then click here to get your copy of The Russian, in stores everywhere July 30, 2019. 


The Russian SD


TRBS: After eight Dewey Andreas novels, Rob Tacoma is finally getting his own book! How did that come to be, and how long have you been planning to feature Rob as the protagonist?

Coes: “I started thinking about it several years ago. St. Martin’s Press was excited about it from the beginning and that made it easier. As for Rob, it was between him and Kohl Meir. Not sure why I chose him over Kohl. Maybe I’ll do a third series featuring Kohl someday.”

TRBS: I absolutely loved The Russian, and think it’s some of your best work yet. It’s a bit darker, maybe has a little more grit than the Dewey books, but it’s still filled with action and moves faster than anything you’ve written before. How did you come up with the story idea for this one? 

Coes: “The challenge was – and always is – tackling larger threats in a way that feels authentic, intimate, and not stereotyped or cliched. In the case of the Russian mafia, it’s a complicated, multi-faceted subject. There are hundreds of different factions. Because this is an ongoing series, I portrayed one storyline. I’ll hit other storylines in future Tacoma books. Had this been a standalone book, I would have taken a broader, slower approach – the book would’ve been a thousand pages, but it would’ve been comprehensive. I thought about that, but decided to go this way instead.”

TRBS: What kind of research did you have to before actually sitting down to write this book?

Coes: “I had to assassinate two politicians and then singlehandedly fight a bunch of Russian mobsters. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. Luckily, I’m a Level 77-b Tai Chi ‘Dragon Fist’ and know various ways to kill with my pinky, so it wasn’t too bad. If they ever do come after me, I’ll just deal with it the way I deal with squirrels, with a loud screeching Karate howl followed by a flying leap from the roof of the garage dressed in my Kung Fu Panda pajamas.”

TRBS: Anyone who follows you on social media knows you’re a big sports fan, hockey in particular. The Bruins were this close to winning the Stanley Cup . . . what happened? And would you rather have a book debut at #1 on the New York Times list, or see the Bruins win it all?

Coes: “My theory is that game 6 was in St. Louis and the Bruins had to win it because they were down 3-2. That game 6, they played the best game of the season, or close to it. It was like playing a game 7. Thus, they were spent in game 7 and played as if they were already on vacation. But credit to St. Louis – they were a tough team. In terms of hitting #1 or having the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, I’d definitely take the #1!”

TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you moving forward, and when can readers expect to see Dewey Andreas again?

Coes: “Dewey will be back next year in a book that I’m in the middle of right now, and it’s a barn burner.”


Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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