The Blackmailer

Roger A. Smith


1838 St. Petersburg, Russia’s Window to the West. Thirteen-year-old tomboy Rian Krieger has run away to Russia to help her uncle and cousin build a railroad for Tsar Nicholas I. But...

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St. Petersburg, Russia’s Window to the West. Thirteen-year-old tomboy Rian Krieger has run away to Russia to help her uncle and cousin build a railroad for Tsar Nicholas I. But there’s a problem: Rian is posing as her uncle’s coachman, a boy. The Tsar takes note of Rian’s bravery and resourcefulness and asks her (meaning orders her, for a request from the Tsar of All the Russias is, in fact, a command) to spend her days in his palace as companion to Grand Duke Konstantin, his ten-year-old son. 

Philadelphia, U.S.A, the “Workshop of the World.”  An economic depression has created massive unemployment and thrown the city into turmoil. Jules Freeman, who fled from slavery eighteen years ago, is a busy man. He struggles to keep his fledgling business afloat. He makes ends meet as foreman at Krieger Coach. His home is a station on the Underground Railroad. Then, he is asked to take on a huge task that intrigues and challenges him.

Book 3 of Rian Krieger’s Journey immerses Rian, Jules, their families, friends, and enemies in a history that has been ignored for almost two centuries. 


“If you think today’s world is complicated for an adolescent, try going back to the 1830s and being a girl pretending to be a boy; a coachman who also becomes a companion to Tsar Nicholas I’s ten-year-old son. The Blackmailer, Book 3 of Rian Krieger’s Journey, takes us on a wild ride through Russian history and winds its way to 1938 Philadelphia and The Abolitionist Movement. Roger A. Smith is a master at integrating history and fiction in this fast-paced, enjoyable, and informative series!”—Kathy Aspden, Multicultural fiction novelist, author of The Mala Beads and The Irishman Series.

by Roger A, Smith
Page Count: 358
Trim Size: 6 X 9
Publish Date: March 26, 2024
Imprint: Milford House Press
Genre: Historical
FICTION / Historical / Civil War Era
FICTION / LGBTQ+ / Transgender
FICTION / African American & Black / Historical

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This author doesn’t just tell us about history….he makes us feel it

Roger Smith’s third book of Rian Krieger’s Journey is yet another compelling page-turner. The intrigue from Book 2 continues as Rian plays out her role as companion to the Russian Tsar’s 10-year-old son Constantin, knowing that one false move on her part could cause Constantin’s suspicious sister to reveal Rian’s secret.

In the ensuing chapters, Rian manages to escape Russia on a steamship, arriving home with her favorite possession: a portrait of herself painted by someone who thought she was a boy. Her father, in the meantime, is still grappling with her perception of herself: “You ran halfway around the world for reasons I cannot understand. You continue to defy me by wearing boys’ clothing. Why did you even bother to come home?”

As Rian adjusts to life back in America, she manages to insert herself into every event, no matter how dangerous. Now 14, she is more determined than ever to help in the abolitionist movement.

One my favorite fictional characters is Jules Freeman, the courageous self-emancipated slave who led the construction of Pennsylvania Hall, only to have it burned to the ground by anti-abolitionists.

Mr. Smith’s meticulous attention to detail and accuracy included Author’s Notes with explanations of the historical characters and events that he so skillfully wove into the book. He even offers to send “bonus” material to interested readers, including a transcript of a 1915 recording of 91-year-old Rian Krieger reminiscing about her life and the era in which she lived.

Bring on Book 4, Mr. Smith. I’m hooked!