Review: Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit – Vaughn Sherman

Paperback: 320 pages
Camel Press; 1st edition (August 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1603818111
ISBN-13: 978-1603818117
Order book here:


Order E-book here:


Sasha Plotkin – KGB Agent wanting to defect.
Chris Holbeck – A CIA agent working to help Sasha defect.
Lisa Holbeck – Chris’ wife who is drawn into the political web.


The setting is the late 60s early 1970s. Chris Holbeck is a CIA agent who happens to meet his counterpart in the KGB, Sasha Plotkin. The two men develop a friendship. During the course of this friendship, Chris learns that Sasha wants to defect. They set plans in place, and Sasha never shows up. A few years later, Chris receives news that they’ve once again made contact, and Sasha wants to work only with Chris.


The plot for this is in some ways reminiscent of The Spy who came in from the cold, for that is exactly what Sasha is wanting to do. There are multiple conflicts the character run into, from Chris’ family resenting his career, to trust issues with Sasha.

The author takes you on a lot of twists and turns, not only with the relationship between Sasha and Chris, but also between Chris and his family. You are able to see the toll that being an agent can have on one’s family.

I really liked the book, and felt the ending was wrapped up rather nicely. The author, himself a CIA agent, pulled from some of his own experiences in crafting the story. This added a great depth of realism to the story.

If you are interested in the spy novels along the lines of James Bond, you won’t find that here. But if you are interested in spy novels set in reality, with the way a real spy would handle his job, I think this should suit you greatly.

It was a very good reading experience, and I’d look forward to more stories about Chris Holbeck and his family. If I were going to rate it, I’d rate it PG-13 just due to the content.

Pick it up, give it a read, and drop back by to let us know what you thought.


Friday dawned much like the day of his last meeting with Plotkin, cold and clear with new snow. Such a pretty day that this time he  resolved not to return to the Embassy after signaling Plotkin at NK that the meeting was on. After the safety signal at ten o’clock, he’d go directly home, maybe have a chance to chat with Lisa before lunch.

Upon leaving the Embassy, he noted that the sun hadn’t warmed the air at all. The squeaking snow under his feet confirmed how cold it was as he walked toward his car. The shadows from the trees along Strandvägen weren’t quite as long as they had been last week at this time. Stockholm was on the downhill ride toward spring. In the scant hour he’d been at the Embassy the car had cooled off completely. He let it warm up before driving downtown to wait the few minutes at NK for Plotkin’s safety signal. No policeman this time, and no Plotkin visible in the park. But then he hadn’t seen Plotkin last time, either.

Next he headed west from the city, toward home. Chris enjoyed the drive and was feeling good as he slid to a stop in front of his house. Lisa didn’t reply to his cheery “Hello” when he let himself in through the front door. Now what? Her actions were so strange these days he was afraid she might have taken off without preparing the lunch for Plotkin. A walk through the dining room to the kitchen put his mind at ease. The table was set, and soup was simmering on the stove. She must have walked down to the shopping square for some last minute items. It wasn’t yet ten thirty, and she had no reason to expect him. He went back to the front windows to look down the  street, on the chance that he might see her walking back. No Lisa, only a skier heading toward Drottningholm. This castle was located not much more than a mile from their home across Drottningholm Bridge. It was a favorite residence of the royal family and surrounded by a park open to the public.

He and Lisa had skied there several times with the children during the Christmas holidays. An idea struck. Chris went quickly to his bedroom to change into long johns and ski pants, then to the front hall for his ski parka, hat and mittens. Next he went to the garage for his skis. He’d ski down to the square to pick up Lisa and come back with her. Outside the garage door, he slapped his skis down on the new snow and fastened the cable bindings. Out on the street Chris looked in the direction of the square. Still no Lisa. Nobody, in fact, on the street. In the other direction the skier had long since disappeared. An hour skiing at Drottningholm would probably do  him more good than trying to talk with Lisa. Few people were outdoors on this work and school day. It was terribly cold, but the atmosphere brought some needed peace to Chris. He felt good. The  children in their neighborhood were on skis most every afternoon. As he used his poles to push himself along and keep his balance, he thought about how Missy and her friends skied merrily along with no poles. Ah, to be young again!

There was a knoll off the beaten path in the park where somebody had built a small ski jump, maybe a couple of feet high. Probably some of the older boys who lived nearby. Chris thought about trying it.   He’d do it. Climbing the knoll took more out of him than he’d expected.

Wheezing at the top, he made his weekly resolve to start an exercise program. The knoll wasn’t high, but looking down the run to the jump, it appeared a lot more impressive than from the bottom. Well, he had been a pretty good skier during college days. There wasn’t anybody in sight to embarrass him if he botched the little jump. He poled hard and headed downhill. Two things surprised Chris. First, his skis were much faster than expected. When he started out he almost lost his balance backwards. Then, when he dug  in the poles and launched himself on the jump, he went much higher than he thought he would. In the few seconds he was in the air he realized that he had overcompensated for the first mistake. Now he was leaning too far forward. He tried to bring up the tips of his skis and failed, hitting the snow with the tip of one ski. He somersaulted, bounced on his shoulders, made a half-roll and came to a stop with his right ski buried in the snow.

His leg must be badly twisted, he thought. He moved to untangle himself and came close to fainting. It was more than a twist, for sure. The pain was awful when he tried to move.

Chris lay back, chilled, and felt the panic start. Nobody was in sight.

About the Author

Vaughn Sherman was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where he attended Roosevelt High School. After an active duty Navy tour late in World War II, he attended and graduated from the University of Washington, working in Alaska for the Fish and Wildlife Service during summer vacations.

The Alaska experience led Vaughn into the career of a fisheries biologist, working for the Washington State Department of Fisheries. That career was cut short when he was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. He served long assignments in the Far East and Europe before doing a short tour in Vietnam 1973-74. That assignment ended when his wife became ill and he was needed at home to care for her and three school-age children.

After taking early retirement Vaughn’s community activities have mostly involved the governance of non-profit agencies and community colleges. This work includes presentations and retreat leadership all over the country. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Edmonds Community College, as president of Washington State’s Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC), and as president of the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

Vaughn studied creative writing at the University of Washington, an interest that has resulted in several publications. In addition to Sasha’s Plotkin’s Deceit, he wrote the memoir of a northwest mariner titled An Uncommon Life (1988). Two small books dealing with the management of community college boards of trustees have been published by ACCT. Essentials of Good Board/CEO Relations was released in 1999 and is now in its second edition. The Board Chair: A Guide for Leading Community Colleges, a collaboration with his colleague Dr. Cindra Smith, was published in 2002. A third book will be released in early 2012: Walking the Board Walk—Secrets of an Enjoyable Nonprofit Board Experience. This guide shares Vaughn’s thirty years of experience both as a member and trainer of nonprofit boards.

A certified mediator, Vaughn is a volunteer with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish, Island and Skagit Counties.

After the passing of his first wife, Vaughn married Jan Lind-Sherman, a teacher who brought her own children into the marriage. Their extended family includes eight children, eleven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and assorted siblings, nieces, nephews and daughters-in-law.

Tour Schedule

October 22nd:  Review & Giveaway~Teena In Toronto
October 24th:  Review & Giveaway~Beauty In Ruins
October 26th: Review & Giveaway~The Book Connection
October 31st:  Review & Giveaway~Impressions In Ink
November 1st:  Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~JeanBookNerd
November 3rd: Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~Electronic Scrapbook
November 5th:  Showcase Spotlight~Omnimystery News
November 8th:  Review & Giveaway~ Two Weeks From Everywhere
November 12th:  Review, Guest Post & Giveaway~The Top Shelf
November 15th:  Showcase Spotlight~Read 2 Review
Nvember 19th:  Review & Giveaway~The Stuff of Success
November 20th:  Review & Giveaway~Rhodes Review
November 26th:  Review, Interview & Giveaway~Reviews By Molly

See our giveaway for 1 electronic copy of this by going here.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Cheryl at Partners in Crime Tour for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

12 Responses to “Review: Sasha Plotkin’s Deceit – Vaughn Sherman”

  1. Cheryl "Mash" Says:

    As always, a fantastic review and post. Kudos! Thank you!

  2. Rhodes Review - Review Section Says:

    […] our review here. 0 people like this post. […]

  3. paula howard Says:

    So totally my genre. This is going on my TBR.

  4. Spy Versus Spy in Stockholm | Camel Press Says:

    […] “I really liked the book, and felt the ending was wrapped up rather nicely. The author, himself a CIA agent, pulled from some of his own experiences in crafting the story. This added a great depth of realism to the story. If you are interested in the spy novels along the lines of James Bond, you won’t find that here. But if you are interested in spy novels set in reality, with the way a real spy would handle his job, I think this should suit you greatly.” –Rhodes Review […]

  5. Paula Howard Says:

    Spy Versus Spy’s comment…. just makes me want to read it even more.

  6. Rick Rhodes Says:

    Paula, I think Spy Vs. Spy must be the author, because that’s from my review. I got a really nice e-mail from him thanking him for the review and for noticing that it was a different sort of spy novel.

  7. Paula Howard Says:

    Well, he still makes me want to read it even more. How nice of him to e-mail you.

  8. Rick Rhodes Says:

    Yes, it was very nice. Where did you find this comment?

  9. Paula Howard Says:

    It came through on my news feed … the Rhodes Review.

  10. Rick Rhodes Says:

    Oh. Okay.

  11. Paula Howard Says:

    right above my comment that it made me want to read it more.

  12. Rick Rhodes Says:

    Oh okay. I saw it now.