The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels. But writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation. Nik Krasno has just recently added book #3, Be First or Be Dead, to the Oligarch series.
Our narcissistic oligarch, Misha Vorotavich, is back and this time he has reached his dream of becoming number one on Forbes list of the richest person in the world. But being at the top is not easy, and Misha must take on a group of wealthy individuals known as the Magnificent Seven in an all-out war of the filthy rich for which the odds are not in his favor. Of course, this doesn’t stop Misha as he uses every trick in the book to defeat his enemies.
Misha’s story begins with some down time on the Island of Ibiza with his newly found—rolling in the dough friend, Emil Greenberg, with beautiful women and plenty of drugs. Unfortunately, Misha’s fun-filled time with Emil ends badly as Misha finds that Emil is anything but his friend. Misha is framed by Emil and the Magnificent Seven for starting a conflict between Russia and the Ukraine to take advantage of financial opportunities brought on by the hostilities. It turns out that the Magnificent Seven aren’t happy just being extremely wealthy but want to be even wealthier by destroying Misha and potentially causing World War III. The rest of the story revolves around Misha running for his life and striking a counter attack on the Magnificent Seven with an ending that is truly exciting.
Overall, with all the excitement and Misha’s financial antics for which he uses to battle with the super rich, I have to say that Be First or Be Dead is a fun read and I feel it is worthy of a 4-star review. However, as I was reading most of the novel, I almost gave it 3-stars. In my previous review of the series, I complained about the lack of any strong female characters as most of the women are portrayed as being overly gorgeous airheads that see Misha as some godlike stud—granted this is coming from Misha’s point of view—or they are characterized as being old, homely and catty. The passage with Misha’s fun-filled tryst on Ibiza is definitely for all the guys out there, as I had to roll my eyes a few times as Misha’s acts of depravity seemed to go on much longer than what was needed to get the point across. As I continued my read of Be First or Be Dead, I was frustrated with the fact that one of the few good female characters, Adriana, who is the ex-wife of Misha’s henchman, Arthur, and a kick-butt kind of a gal, was considered to be an ugly-duckling by Misha. Another potentially good female character that was attractive but as resourceful as Adriana was considered by Misha to be a contender for a bit of hanky-panky, but he backs away only because Arthur has eyes for her. I was about to come to the end of Be First or Be Dead and ready to hand out my 3-star review when I came upon the ending. Krasno came through for me, as Misha has finally met a true female adversary with a cliffhanger that has surely piqued my interest.
Though technically Be First or Be Dead could be read as a standalone, I do, however, suggest reading the first two novels of the series, Rise of the Oligarch and Mortal Showdown first as it gives a clearer picture of what makes Mikhail ‘Misha’ Vorotavich tick.
To learn more about the series check out Nik Krasno’s Oligarch series.