Nerve Attack by S. Lee Manning


In Nerve Attack, ex-ECA agent Kolya Petrov – still battling his PTSD symptoms – is racing against time to save American citizens from a deadly toxic nerve gas.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. 

Still, it wasn’t Kolya drinking out of boredom and physical discomfort that worried her, but that he was drinking because, despite his denials, he was continuing to struggle with PTSD. He’d seemed better, but then, he was a good actor, which had been an asset when he worked in the world of intelligence. It was less so in personal relationships.

S. LEE MANNING. Nerve Attack (Kindle Locations 547-549). Encircle Publications. 
Book Cover Nerve Attack by S. Lee Manning.

S. Lee Manning is a qualified lawyer and worked as the managing editor for Law Enforcement Communica-tions. She left to work at a New York law firm, then for the State of New Jersey, and had her own solo practice. 

As the chairperson for the New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NJADP), she campaigned against the death penalty by writing articles about the risk of wrongful execution and arguing against the death penalty. 

She lives in Vermont with her husband and cat Xiao and loves to visit her kids – a daughter in California and a son in New Jersey. 

The author used her interest in Russia and espionage to create her international Kolya Petrov thriller series. The first book, The Trojan Horse, has won many awards. 

– Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Finalist 2021
– Kops-Fetherling International Phoenix Award 2020 for Best New Voice in action/thriller Finalist National Indie Excellence Awards.
– Finalist, National Indie Excellence Awards.

The second book in the series is Nerve Attack, released on September 2021, with the third book in progress. 

Nerve Attack- Summary

Kolya Petrov

Kolya is an ex-ECA agent. He retired from the company eight months ago after being captured and tortured in Romania. He still suffers from PTSD and has not fully recovered from all his physical injuries. 

Kolya is still angry at his old boss Margaret Bradford because she has set him up for capture in Romania. Her plan was that Kolya gives up information about the ECA computer system to introduce a trojan horse into the Romanian system. But Kolya never gave up any information until they threatened him with the life of his fiancee, Alex.

Kolya endured days of torture rather than giving his abductors access to the ECA computer system. But he only gives in when they capture Alex and threaten him with her life. But soon, he realizes that Margaret had leaked information to set him up—

S. LEE MANNING. Nerve Attack (Kindle Locations 800-802). Encircle Publications. 

Since he is a qualified lawyer, he went back to this profession that he hates. But soon, they lure him back into the espionage game through circumstances out of his control.

He is racing against time to find a deadly nerve toxin. His old friend, Dmitri, is helping him, but can he trust him completely? Kolya does not know that a powerful foe is orchestrating the events, hell-bent on revenge. 

Also Read:  Twisty Tales, Vol 1 by F.J. Beerling and V.A. Bryce

Can Kolya find the nerve agent, keep himself and Alex safe, and reveal the plot to set him up as the terrorist behind the nerve attack?

What did I like? 


I have enjoyed this book because it has a complex plot that plays out on various levels. Kolya is on a dangerous mission, where he has to watch his back constantly because he can trust no one.

The shootout

Kolya and Alex are visiting Alex’s family for the birthday celebration of her 86-year-old aunt. A group of three masked men attack them. Kolya killed two of them, but one got away. Who sent them and why?

Friends or enemies?

The Novichok toxic nerve gas kills various people in the US. The ECA asks Kolya to investigate, despite the weakness in his knee and his severe PTSD. They know Russia created the nerve agent and is its only source. Dimitri, an old school friend, is the only one who can put them in touch with a likely suspect – the mafia boss, Vladimir Rzaev. But Dmitri will talk only with Kolya, even though he is the one who sent him to prison.

We go way back, Kolya and me. He put me here because he has honor. So maybe I am angry, but I know he will not lie to me.

S. LEE MANNING. Nerve Attack (Kindle Locations 465-466). Encircle Publications. 

Dmitri agrees to help Kolay find Rzaev in exchange for his freedom and the money confiscated when arrested. But can Kolya trust Dmitri, trust him not to turn around and kill him at the end of the mission?

The Russian smuggling network

Charlie Frye is part of the Russian smuggling network in the US. He is also responsible for distributing the toxic nerve gas that killed American citizens in various locations. And Charlie is working with an enemy to set Kolya up as a terrorist by capturing Alex and using her as leverage to force him to comply.


Kolya agrees to go on the mission to save American lives, but can he trust his boss, who has set him up before? Or even his friend Jonathan who is still working for the ECA – even after they betrayed Kolya?


Kolya Petrov intrigues me. He is an ex-ECA agent who suffers from a bad knee and PTSD after his capture and torture in Romania. But he is loyal enough to his country that he will return for a mission with the ECA, even though he doesn’t trust the director. 

The author describes Kolya’s symptoms and shares his thoughts to give us a clear picture of his struggle with PTSD. He experiences flashbacks to the traumatic events in Romania. It occurs unexpectedly and with varying intensity and puts him at risk during the mission, where he needs to be sharp and alert at all times. 

Even though he receives treatment, he refuses to acknowledge his past and emotions – a crucial step in his treatment. But he uses grounding techniques and box breathing techniques to cope. 

His injured knee also puts him at a disadvantage. It limits his reaction time, and he often needs to wear a brace or get an injection for the pain when using it too much. 

That despite your PTSD and your anger, you have sufficient self-control to be in the field. That you handled the emergency yesterday is strong evidence that you are coping better than your therapist may think.”

S. LEE MANNING. Nerve Attack (Kindle Locations 1645-1646). Encircle Publications. 

The author portrays Kolya as a brave, resilient and loyal man. He will risk his life for innocent people, even though he can’t trust those working with him during the mission. And he is fiercely protective of his fiancee, which is also the weakness his enemies use against him.

Also Read:  Saving Grace by D.M Barr

And not so much? 

The book does not live up to its title since the nerve agent does not feature prominently in the narrative. Even though the toxic agent kills several people, the reader would expect it to play a more significant role in the story. Although it leads to a surprising twist about its intended purpose for the Russians. 

I have received the following comment from the author on Twitter

So we can now see that the book actually very much live up to its title, with the clever wordplay not only referring to the toxic nerve agent but also to Kolya’s PTSD.

Should you read Nerve Attack?

Nerve Attack is a complex thriller with distinct plot lines to keep you rooting for Kolya in his quest to find the toxic agent, even though he can rely only on himself. The author gives us great insight into his struggle with PTSD and his fierce loyalty to his fiancee- also his greatest weakness. 

Also, consider reading Trojan Horse, the first book in the Kolay Petrov thriller series. Or Agent Zero, by best-selling author Jack Marsh. Similar books I have reviewed are Jihadi Bride, One Kingdom Under Heaven, and The Algorithm.

In Nerve Attack, Kolya uses box breathing to help him cope with the symptoms of PTSD. Check out this relaxation technique and try it out when you experience excessive stress. We would love to hear from you. Please share your experience of box breathing with us in the comments. 

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Book Info



Print Length:

308 pages

Publication Date:

6 May 2017

Text-to-Speech | Screen Reader | Enhanced Typesetting | Word Wise

Categories: Medical Thrillers

Trigger Warnings: Euthanasia | Marital Violence | Sexual References | Profanity

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I have started reading at the age of four. I can remember how I often read under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to sleep.

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