Behind The Mask by Dana Ridenour
Kirkus Star

Behind The Mask

Email this review


An FBI agent working on her first undercover assignment becomes too close to one of the domestic terrorists she seeks to expose in this debut crime novel.

Louisianan and FBI Special Agent Alexis “Lexie” Montgomery’s initial covert mission requires an alias—Alexis Marie “Lexie” Taylor—and a temporary move to Los Angeles. In LA, the petite 29-year-old with “a bit of a hippie streak” is charged with the task of unmasking clandestine violators of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Shortly after Lexie embarks on “Operation Blind Fury” and enrolls in a class at Santa Monica College to give her alias some credibility, another Southerner, Savannah Riley, starts her freshman year at the University of Southern California. Savannah’s roommate is pierced, inked, vegan animal activist Haley Crosby. When the roommates attend a meeting of the New World Militia, a radical group that uses violence to save animals, Savannah meets heavily tattooed, gauge-eared Nick Harris. She finds him a sexy, “dark, dangerous man” who would not “fit into her old Southern life,” and they soon become lovers. Lexie’s plan to get asked to participate in underground, illegal action by members of an animal activist terrorist cell brings her into contact with Savannah, Nick, and Haley prior to the trio’s involvement in an NWM assignment that turns deadly. But by the time that happens, Lexie and Savannah have become BFFs. The agent begins to empathize with the passion of the activists, and the gravity of the bureau’s undercover motto, “You build relationships to betray relationships,” weighs heavily on her. The author, a retired FBI agent, worked as an undercover operative for most of her career. Her experience with the activities and emotional involvement of agents makes this a much richer story than most undercover novels. Tension mounts as Lexie becomes increasingly conflicted about her assignment. Dialogue rings true throughout, regardless of the age of the characters. Ridenour’s flair for description is another plus; for example, an activist’s house is described as a place in which “hardwood floors were scratched, and dog hair collected in the corners.” In this serious novel, there are welcome humorous moments, as when a senior agent treats Lexie to a regular coffee, not a latte, because “You have to earn latte status.”

A vivid, suspenseful story about a torn agent on a complex covert mission.

Pub Date: April 5th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-63489-903-1
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2016


IndieHard-Boiled Anxiety by Karen Huston Karydes
by Karen Huston Karydes
IndieBehind The Mask by Dana Ridenour
by Dana Ridenour
IndieReturn of the Convict by William Alan Thomas
by William Alan Thomas
IndieAll Good Children by Dayna Ingram
by Dayna Ingram


FictionSHIVER by Karen Robards
by Karen Robards
FictionJUDAS HORSE by April Smith
by April Smith
FictionGOLDEN STATE by Stephanie Kegan
by Stephanie Kegan