One accidentally killed CIA analyst is a tragedy. Two accidentally killed CIA agents is a job for Cordell Logan.
CIA officer Layne Sterling, of the Casualty Assessment Matrix, visits pilot/retired government assassin/amiable narrator Cordell Logan (Hot Start, 2016, etc.) with an offer she hopes he can’t refuse. CIA operative Rico Perris recently drove off the road and into a river during a blizzard near Denver, and another CIA agent in Phoenix died in a suspicious hit-and-run last month. But Sterling goes too far when she implies that she could expose Logan’s past CIA deeds, and he angrily ends the meeting. After his former handler Buzz, still with the CIA, reams him for passing up this opportunity to do something meaningful, Logan reconsiders his refusal and changes his mind. Sterling gives him a crash course in the careers of the two agents, both heavily invested in theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination. The likelihood that their two deaths were coincidental gets fainter and fainter. Beneath Logan’s contentious relationship with Sterling is undeniable sexual tension. The duo’s examination of the accident locations triggers unusual suspicion and resistance. They question Perris’ live-in girlfriend, who has little to tell them, and a Vietnam buddy, who has nothing good to say about Perris. Just when they think they’ve hit a dead end, a gun battle with police, followed by a lame excuse, convinces them that they’re close to a perilous truth.
Freed’s mostly formulaic thriller, the sixth in this series, is best in its one-on-one scenes and observations of modern life.