The FBI hires an aging child actor to go undercover in a West Virginia prison to extract vital information from a convicted money launderer who’d rather keep his head down.
Tommy Jump’s best days onstage are probably behind him. At 27, he’s too old to play children or even teenagers. But as his old schoolmate Danny Ruiz, who’s now with the FBI, assures him, he’s not too old to earn a fat paycheck by playing the role of Peter Lenfest Goodrich, the high school history teacher who reacted to a bank’s plans to foreclose on his mortgage by robbing the bank and then getting caught. Danny is convinced that Tommy’s just the person to worm himself into the confidence of Mitchell Dupree, whose job as an executive in the Latin American division at Union South Bank was seriously compromised when he laundered millions for El Vio, the fearsome, half-blind boss of the New Colima Cartel. Mitch has a wife and two children just beginning the long wait outside for him to serve his time, and although he’s arranged for the documentary evidence he assembled against El Vio to be turned over to the authorities if anything untoward happens to him, he’s not about to upset the apple cart by talking out of turn—unless of course it’s to innocuous Pete Goodrich, who’ll be serving time alongside him in the minimum security Morgantown Prison as soon as he pleads guilty and bids a tearful farewell to Amanda Porter, Tommy’s actual fiancee, who’s just found out she’s pregnant. After all, Tommy’s been acting professionally for most of his life, and the FBI will spring him on a moment’s notice if he gets into trouble, so what could possibly go wrong? Fans of Parks’ well-oiled thrillers (Closer than You Know, 2018, etc.) won’t even bother to ask; they’ll be too busy licking their chops anticipating the twists that are bound to come.
The setup is so patient and the logistics so matter-of-fact that even the savviest readers will be caught in the story’s expertly laid traps before they know what’s happening.