Welcome to the blog tour for gripping, thriller, Tea with Rasputin by Rolf Richardson!
Tea with Rasputin
Publication Date: July 22, 2020
It’s 1992 and during a routine layover in Anchorage Alaska, Greg Wilton (a First Officer with British World Airways) disappears without trace.
Back at airline HQ near Heathrow, Mr Halford, Head of Security, is tasked with finding someone to investigate Greg’s case. His team are working to capacity and no one can be spared. So he scrapes the bottom of the barrel and assigns recent recruit, Terry Jackson to the investigation.
Fresh out of training school and awaiting his first posting, Terry flies to Alaska, brimming with enthusiasm at being trusted with such a mission. There he discovers Wilton rented a small plane while on his layover and both are now missing. His last contact appeared to be with Coral, a waitress at the crew watering hole, The Golden Nugget, so with her help Terry sets out to find the missing airman.
Their quest appears to be hopeless, because Alaska is huge, but they do not give up. The action moves to Hong Kong, Miami, Oxford (England) and finally St. Petersburg for Tea with Rasputin, a ten year globe-trotting saga with many twists and turns.
Join Terry in his investigation, where intrigue, suspense, mystery, humour and even a little romance lie in wait.
SUMMER 1992, ALASKA
On most trips the captain kicked off by flying the first sector, no rhyme or reason for this beyond habit, but on this occasion Captain Abbott said, “You do this one,” muttering an aside about a party last night, which had left him less than razor-sharp. So First Officer Greg Wilton was ‘in command under supervision’, a situation that occurs a million times a year in the world of commercial aviation.
Weather over the arctic regions had been spectacular, the oil-rich North Slope beginning to cast off its winter white, after that the peaks of the Brooks Range, still topped with snow.
“Looks like McKinley’s about to get socked in,” said Greg, pointing ahead at North America’s highest mountain, disappearing before their eyes under some evil-looking clouds.
“Nowadays they call it Denali, not to upset the natives,” said the captain, adding: “A taste of what’s 4 to come, because here’s the latest Anchorage actual: best get your wellies out.”
Greg glanced at the slip of paper, which told him that their destination was blowing a gale and bucketing with rain. The North Pacific coast is notoriously wet. They registered the fact that their official funk-hole of Fairbanks was in fine fettle just behind them. Not that they expected any problems at Anchorage, but the flying game is all about looking ahead; anticipation. You never knew.
There were no problems at Anchorage. It was June, so the low pressure brought blustery rain rather than the driving snow of January; that would have been a challenge. Greg Wilton guided the 747 down, an increasingly bumpy ride as they descended into the murk, while the skipper did the co-piloting from the left-hand seat. They had done this sort of thing umpteen times before.
After a very acceptable landing, Greg handed control back to the captain as they approached their stand, because pier guidance lights are calibrated for the left-hand seat. They agreed an engine shut down time of 2126 and wrote this in their log books, together with the trip time of eight hours, thirty-five minutes. Alaska is nine hours behind British time, so they had arrived before leaving London, the polar route being the only one where subsonic aircraft can manage this feat. Bedtime in Britain was lunchtime in Alaska.
They had a quick discussion with the crew who were taking the flight on to Tokyo, then enjoyed a mercifully efficient transit through the airport to their hotel in downtown Anchorage.
“See you in the bar around six?” suggested the captain.
Greg nodded; the boss down the back gave a thumbs up; and a blonde stewardess returned a hopeful smile. No one took any of this as a promise, because evening in Anchorage was well into tomorrow for their bodies. Everyone had their own way of trying to cope with jetlag and most tended to sleep when they could. The trick was to be as fit as possible when duty next called, which in this instance was two days hence.
Forty-eight hours was a better than average recovery time. BWA would have loved to cut it to the legal minimum, but their daily Tokyo service was split three a week through Moscow/Siberia and four a week via Anchorage’s polar route, so longer layovers were unavoidable. The crew’s tryst in the bar that first evening may have been optional, but everyone would be on parade, bright eyed and bushy tailed, when BWA’s next flight arrived from London. That was for sure.
Sometimes ‘for sure’ isn’t. They tried his room. Hunted high and low throughout the hotel. Even phoned the local knocking shop. No luck. In the end Captain Abbott had to admit defeat. Greg Wilton, his first officer, had vanished.
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About the Author
ROLF RICHARDSON is a mongrel English/Norwegian who loves to travel, starting with service in the RAF, flying Britain’s first jet fighter, the Meteor; thereafter 25 years as a British Airways pilot on Argonauts, Britannias, VC10s and 747s.
He then became a roaming photographer, visiting around 110 countries, with over 15,000 photos now sold. He has worked his passage on cruise ships by giving lectures. Taken 3 months to drive round Australia.
A few years ago he set out to put his experiences to further use by writing a series of ‘Easy Read’ books: thrillers with a dash of history, romance and humour.
TEA WITH RASPUTIN: THE GENESIS
With a life spent in the travel industry, my stories are set in some of the places I’ve found most interesting. As the title suggests, ‘Tea with Rasputin’ end up in Russia, but it starts in Alaska, which used to be Russian, and there’s the first clue.
During the cold war time I flew 747s on the Polar route between Europe and Japan, with layovers in Anchorage, a place I always enjoyed. One day I heard that a colleague had rented a light plane there and simply vanished: never seen again. I used this event as the trigger for my book, weaving a story that takes British boy and American girl via a series of locations to the grand finale in St.Petersburg, Russia.
The time is the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when assets of the old regime were being sold off to shady characters, soon to be either billionaires or dead. By now I had taken to lecturing on cruise ships, which often took me to St.Petersburg, a city packed with history.
I call my books ‘Easy Reads’, a mix of mystery action, romance and humor, designed to entertain.
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