Nerve Attack

Former U.S. intelligence operative Kolya Petrov, struggling with the physical and psychological aftereffects of kidnapping and torture, is drawn back into the game when he learns that Dmitri, his childhood best friend, holds the key to stopping an attack by terrorists armed with a deadly nerve agent.


Working with Dmitri, however, is complicated. While their friendship had been forged during their years in an abusive Russian boys’ home, the two men’s lives took very different paths. Dmitri had headed the North American branch of a Russian gang until Kolya, working undercover, put him in prison. Ten years later, Dmitri’s cooperation is essential to finding the smuggler of the nerve agent, and he refuses to work with anyone but Kolya. Kolya reluctantly agrees to undertake one more mission, but to succeed, he must come to terms with the past. Can he trust Dmitri not to take revenge for the betrayal of their friendship? Can he rely on his own judgment and abilities, despite a leg injury and ongoing PTSD, to survive an elaborate plot that threatens his life and that of his fiancée, as well as the lives of hundreds of innocent people?

Based on 29 Reviews
Jane Oliphant
April 2, 2022

The characters are all well written, the story has many twists and turns, and I could not put the book down! Now I’m ordering Ms. Manning’s first book. I hope there’s more to come!

February 5, 2022

Manning’s second novel grabs the reader by the throat on Page One and takes one on a gut-wrenching, heart-pounding, gasp-inducing ride and never lets go until the end. A wonderful read!

saw dust maker
November 8, 2021

The characters are engaging and have depth. Hard to put down the book. Puts the human element into espionage adding to the suspense and plot turns

Bill Douglas
November 7, 2021

I gave Trojan Horse five stars, so I need an extra star or two for Nerve Attack. I liked already knowing the primary characters and appreciated their further development. Only one complaint, I’m getting old and need my sleep. So when I told myself I’d just read for 15 minutes and turn out the lights… Yeah, right! You will see. Read this book!!

V. Carroll
November 6, 2021

This book took me into a new world and an exciting one. Complex yet real characters. Scenes described so well that they took me there and I wanted to stay and see what happened next. The story kept my interest all the way. Can’t wait to read the next one!

J Ferris
October 25, 2021

This story is a very well-crafted spy thriller. I didn’t read the first in the series, but there was sufficient explanation around the events of that story and how they pertain to our hero and his ongoing physical and psychological issues for it to not matter. In Kolya Petrov we have an unlikely, somewhat reluctant, flawed but likeable hero and alongside him a cast of well fleshed out supporting characters that add immeasurably to the story. The story is action packed with something always going on to help it move forward at a fast pace with all the various threads tying back into an extremely satisfactory conclusion. I’ll be watching for the next in the series to be released.

Polly Iyer
October 24, 2021

Nerve Attack kept my interest throughout. I found it more well-rounded and more complex than book one, Trojan Horse, and I consider that a five-star thriller. This book delved deeper into relationships, developed the permanent cast of characters that I assume will hold firm in later books, and shone a light on the parallel workings of intelligence agencies both in the US and the Russian Federation. Though both entities are fictional–all fiction has a thread of truth or it wouldn’t work–as a thriller reader and a student of political intrigue, biological warfare has already been used by dictators and terrorists. We live in dangerous times, and Ms. Manning uses the threat of a biological weapon that has been used by Russia to drive her story. Her tease of what the next book is about makes me eager to read book three, though I hope we’ll get back to avenge the villain in book one at some future point. Well done, Ms. Manning, and thanks for the hours of excitement.

October 21, 2021

Kolya is on a last mission for the ECA to find a toxic nerve agent used by terrorists in the USA. But he feels threatened on all sides. Not only by his boss Margaret who previously betrayed Kolya. But also by Dmitri, whom he had put into prison. And, of course, the terrorists who will do anything to stop him. Kolya’s PTSD symptoms feature prominently in the narrative, putting him at risk as he needs his senses to be sharp at all times. And he fears that his fiancee, Alex, may be abducted and used against him as previously when he got captured in Romania. Readers will enjoy this complex novel with its many plotlines, which will keep you rooting for Kolya until the last page.

October 21, 2021

Koyla Petrov is back! Battered by his experiences in Trojan Horse, Koyla faces another battle. He suffers from PTSD and is attempting to lead a quiet, boring life as a lawyer when a threat of mass killing arises. The key to penetrating the gang behind the threat is Koyla’s childhood friend, Dmitri, whom Koyla, inconveniently, had put into prison some years earlier. Dmitri will work only with Koyla, his former best friend from a brutal boys’ home in Russia. When Koyla’s old agency, which betrayed him in Trojan Horse, explains the Dmitri problem and asks for Koyla’s assistance, he puts principle above vindictiveness and joins the hunt for answers. The story is a page-turner, and it delves into serious themes of friendship, loyalty, patriotism and the like. The amusing/affecting relationship between Koyla and Dimitri adds complexity to the fireworks of the story. This is an excellent spy thriller that goes beyond the confines of the genre.

October 20, 2021

This was a good book. I nice change of pace from my typical hallmark type books. Was fun to read about espionage. I do feel like this was a pretty typical spy book though. Not bad at all, just not the keep me reading all night good. I received a free copy of this book and am leaving my honest review.

Shira Schweitzer
October 17, 2021

Manning expertly intertwines characters from the first book in the series, real life events, and challenges to create one of the finest thrillers I have ever read. The characters are complex, conflicted, and still familiar. The scene settings create tension and speed the plot along. Many sequels somewhat pale when compared to the first in the series-Nerve Attack is the polar opposite-it is more exciting, more engaging and more compelling. This page turner is impossible to put down. It is the perfect vacation book since you will not want to interrupt your read. I cannot recommend Nerve Attack enough. It is the ne plus ultra of the genre!

Jules Basak
October 12, 2021

Warning: Spoilery Review— S. Lee Manning’s world of spies and espionage makes a return in her new novel, “Nerve Attack” which continues the adventures of protagonist Kolya Petrov months after the events of “Trojan Horse”. In this book, we leave the events of Romania to confront a new international threat–the Russian Federation itself—and stop an act of revenge by its ruthless president. While the danger seems to be sparked by a fatal nerve agent smuggled into U.S soil to set off a massive killing spree, the real danger comes from a host of different antagonists that Kolya face in the novel. That of course includes his own PTSD that resulted from the events in Romania, something that I felt was a great and realistic addition to his journey. What I really liked in Manning’s first book was her ability to give depth to her characters and their relationships. Her stories are a page-turner not only because of every gripping high stakes mission, but because it’s easy to become attached to the characters and their individual story. I love that in this book we get to explore Kolya’s harsh childhood in Russia as a Russian Jew, as well as his tense relationship with an old friend, Dmitri Lemonosky. Speaking of, Dmitri is an enjoyable character to follow, acting as the snarky and dangerous foil to Kolka throughout the mission and being a source of dark humor and snide banters. It fulfilled one of my favorite tropes of misguided ex-friends/comrades forced to work together, where you don’t know if one will eventually betray the other. I also enjoy a good redemption arc, and we get a dose of that through Tomas Grigorovich Orlov, the Director of Russia’s internal spy agency and President Yuri’s brother-in-law. Despite trying to sabotage Kolya and Dmitri’s plans to get in contact with Rzaev, the gang-leader possibly responsible for smuggling the nerve agent into the U.S., he ultimately takes a great risk to go against Yuri and help the American side. Even while being an initial ‘antagonist’ to Kolya, Tomas’s actions are grey and justifiable (to protect his country and family)—a stark difference to the sadistic madman that is President Yuri himself. Their dynamic is what makes the side of the “bad guys” so interesting. Of course, a key obstacle that is prevalent throughout the novel is the protagonist’s trauma from the grueling torture he faced in the first book. I love that mental health impacts many of Kolya’s decisions and outcomes, making his role as a highly-skilled field agent more realistic and humanizing, rather than the typical one-and-done series of missions we see in typical spy stories. It allows the reader to root for him, to take his side when he scorns the very agency that betrayed him and asks for his help again. It also affects his relationship with other characters and ultimately himself. Plot-wise, there are a lot more character perspectives and events to follow in the second installment, flipping between a dangerous mission in Russia to a dangerous rendezvous in the U.S. (specifically Vermont). The overarching threat takes a grander scale, pitting two familiar Cold-War superpowers against each other. As always, Manning paints every scene and setting with such vivid details that I feel like I’m right there exploring the beauty of St. Petersburg and the White Nights festival, while experiencing the tense moments of each undercover operation. In addition to new characters, the returning cast also play a supporting hand in the story to help carry each part of the overall mission forward. This is another great spy thriller if you are looking not only for an edge-of-your-seat experience, but also real, engaging characters and camaraderie. I look forward to the next installment! Hoping to see more of Kolya and Dmitri together! – Julisa Basak

Shmuel M
October 11, 2021

Usually a sequel is a poor imitation of the successful formula that was the first book in the series. Not so with S. Lee Manning’s newest entry into the spy thriller genre. Manning has hit her stride here. Nerve Attack is even BETTER than Trojan Horse and that was a hard act to follow. This follow up to her hugely popular first novel ,”Trojan Horse” has it all. There’s an exciting page turner of a spy thriller which will entice you to forgo whatever else your’e doing so that you can read what happens next. In addition, the unlikely hero Kolya Petrov, a Jewish Russian immigrant and secret agent who must deal with his PTSD and associated demons from his previous experience , all while trying to foil a plot that threatens to kill innocents in a most fiendish and gruesome way.

October 10, 2021

I was sent a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving an honest review. I loved Nerve Attack on pretty much every level. Kolya is so realistic and relatable, not your typical indestructible action hero. He has emotions and takes mental/physical damage in ways that make sense. His humanity is only a small part of what makes the story great though. The whole plot makes you think and guess while keeping you deeply invested in what’s going to happen next. After finishing, I immediately purchased the first book in the series and hope to see even more.

October 9, 2021

Exciting, complex, well-written novel in which the author, S. Lee Manning, takes the reader on Koyla Petrov’s journey as he acknowledges and copes with physical injuries as well as the shock and despair that followed his kidnapping and torture as a result of having been sacrificed by his ECA superior, Margaret Bradford, while working as an agent in the service of his adopted country. He transcends these physical and emotional injuries in order to focus on saving his country from horror of exposure to the deadly nerve agent, Novichok. His task is further complicated by required collaboration and need to rebuild trust with a former close friend he has put in prison, Dmitri, with whom he shared his childhood in an abusive school for orphans. Excellent character development in the portrayals of not only Koyla and Dmitri, but Alex Feinstein, Koyla’s romantic partner, Yuri Bykovsky President of the Russian Federation and Tomas Orlov the husband of Lyudmilia, Bykovsky’s sister. Suspense builds in a “nail biting, edge of one’s seat” crescendo adding to the reasons for this novel to have a 5-star rating! Review by M. Price This well-written novel is a page turner. Kolya Petrov is reluctant to return to the spy game for his adopted country after being kidnapped and tortured by the enemy and sacrificed by his superior the last time out. But he agrees to one more mission – to find a dangerous nerve agent before it can kill thousands of Americans. To do so, he will have to work with his childhood friend, Dmitri, with whom he survived childhood in an abusive orphanage. They eventually took different paths, culminated by Kolya’s arrest of Dmitri for gang activity. Can he trust Dmitri now? Or his superior, Margaret Bradford? Can he physically do the job, what with lingering leg pain and PTSD? S. Lee Manning does a great job of character development. The continuing suspense makes it hard to put down. Review by J. Huey

Kayak Jay
October 8, 2021

Kolya is drawn back from becoming a lawyer to go back to the black ops when he is calls to help a convict who is a young good friend. The story includes problems of bias against Jews. Kolya and fiancé, Alex, are both Jews by race, but not religious. The story brings traitors, killers, Russian criminals and official. The action is very suspenseful as the action goes on. This is a very interesting book.

October 5, 2021

He is suffering the effects of his kidnapping and torture that all he wants to do is to have some peace for a while. He is pulled back in when his childhood friend come to him with plans to stop a team of terrorists who have a nerve gas. Can he work with him? Is he being tricked? Will they be about to defeat the terrorists?m what will it cost him this time? See if he can spoil their plot I received an advance copy from hidden gems and I want to review

October 2, 2021

I very much enjoyed this book, even more than the last. It got my interest from the beginning and never let go. There are a few strings to make you want to be certain not to miss the next book. Kolya is an engaging character, as is his fiance. Easily a 5 star book. If you enjoy spy/intrigue, this is a book you shouldn’t miss.

September 23, 2021

This was an interesting story. I really liked the premise of the book, and the bits pertaining to the nerve agent were fascinating. However, while it was a main focus of conversation in the book, not much really happened with it. The nerve agent was more of a theoretical threat with little true danger occurring. The book would’ve been better served with more action and less description of settings and dialogue. The relationship between Dmitri and Kolya was full of humor, betrayal, and understated tenderness. I really enjoyed their interactions and would love to see more stories of them working together. However, all of the other POVs were rather superfluous. There were so many shifts in perspective, time, and setting that it was hard to keep up. I often found myself skimming one section to get back to the more exciting plot lines. Overall, this was a good tale of espionage. While there is room for improvement, it had a solid ending and a decent amount of intrigue. *I received an ARC of this novel. This is my complete and honest review.*

Darby Betancourt
September 23, 2021

Having survived betrayal by his adopted country and torture by a direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler in Trojan Horse, jazz-loving, Jewish-Russian-American, former spy Kolya Petrov is back in S. Lee Manning’s Nerve Attack. This time, though, he’s retired from the espionage game to the more stable life of a lawyer when he’s reluctantly pulled back in to save the country—and the world—from random attacks of the nerve agent, Novichok, supposedly perpetrated by those in his native Russia, and must team with the childhood friend he put behind bars ten years earlier to do so. For those who fear that it would be difficult for Manning to top the action she expertly manifested in her earlier, award-winning thriller, fear not. While enough backstory is imparted to allow this book to stand alone, Kolya’s foes are more relatable to the average reader in this second of the series: pain from the past—both physical and emotional, PTSD, and a begrudging distrust as Kolya learns that some ties may transcend betrayal. In a world where loyalties are split between his native land and the one that seemingly spurned him, the woman he loves versus the duty he feels compelled to fulfill, Nerve Attack is, surprisingly, an even more complex book than its predecessor and better for it. Another winner for Manning and her readers who I assume will share my anticipation for Book #3!

September 23, 2021

I liked Trojan Horse, but Nerve Attack is even better! My favorite new element was Kolya’s childhood friend Dmitri, a character who leaps off the page with his humorous dialogue and mysterious motives. His complicated, tenuous relationship with Kolya is arresting, offering insightful glimpses into Kolya’s own background and adding even more depth to his character. Kolya’s struggles with the after-effects of the previous book, both mental and physical, are depicted in a way that feels believable and realistic, a rarity in a genre where most protagonists seem to shrug off what they go through like it’s nothing. A truly enjoyable sequel, and I can’t wait for the next one!

Teresa J. Sopp
September 23, 2021

This book is tightly written—the ending had me white knuckled. Manning has done a great job with character development and storyline. Great locations, too! If you like thrillers with a little romance thrown in you’ll love Nerve Attack!

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