It is the fall of 1951, and the Korean War is raging.
Twenty-six-year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement
at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu or “naked
kill”; is fluent in seven languages; and has honed extraordinary “proximity
sense,” a sort of sixth sense for the presence of danger. He has the skills to
be the world’s most fearsome assassin and now the CIA needs him.
The Americans offer Hel freedom, money, and a neutral
passport in exchange for one small service: to go to Beijing and kill the
Soviet Union’s commissioner to China. It’s almost certainly a suicide mission,
but Hel accepts. Now he must survive chaos, violence, suspicion, and betrayal
while trying to achieve his ultimate goal of satori—the possibility of
true understanding and harmony with the world.
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