GAGE by David Chacko


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This is a scaring brilliant novel (very different from Price -- 1973) that makes cold-war espionage novels appear as nostalgically innocent as Drury's political potboilers of the '60's in the light of Watergate. It is the old doublecross, as Colonel Shephard reconvenes his disbanded super-elite super-secret cadre (ES-14) not for the purpose of confounding the Enemy Without but to blackmail the Executive for a better job. The blackmail is unconnected with the equivalent of the ""dirty tricks"" campaign -- the plan of an overzealous adviser to stage a ""sympathetic assassination"" (shoot the man standing next to the candidate) to ensure the election of the Unnamable. But something goes wrong with ES-14: members die like roaches around Raid; Gage is tailed by members of The Organization who seem not so much friends or enemies as temporary allies; the Colonel is withholding info; the guy who supposedly wasn't assassinated hasn't been seen for the last three years; and Gage's old cadre lady -- Ariel -- is clearly operating an independent but sometimes cooperative intelligence ""net."" It turns out her plan is to expose the mess to the media, a liberal ploy which of course fails, leaving Gage and his sole surviving partner to avenge -- American style -- the men who did them wrong. A clever linking of concocted to ""real"" events (the unintentional bombing of a NYC brownstone, supposedly by Weathermen) lends authenticity to this gruesome but acceptably plausible account of the ins and outs of the CIA -- which, after all, does employ three-quarters of a million folk. The writing is tough, superfast, jargonal, and most effective.

Pub Date: May 29th, 1974
Publisher: St. Martin's Press