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Entertaining debut thriller from an ex-FBI agent about FBI agents beset.

The FBI background check seems workaday at the outset. Judge Brenda Thompson, first African-American woman to be nominated for the US Supreme Court, has Beltway insiders betting she’ll win Senate approval in a breeze—and then she’s caught in a lie. Caught by the Washington bureau’s Special Agent Lisa Sands, who reports it to her boss, Special Agent Puller Monk, who isn’t as interested as he should be since he’s halfway out of the office to a place in which he’s tremendously interested. Connecticut is where he’s going, to the Foxwoods Resort and Casino, since the truth is he “couldn’t not go.” Special Agent Monk is a serious (anytime, anywhere) gambler—addicted to risk, as he puts it: “only happy when he’s out on the edge.” And soon enough that’s exactly where he finds himself—sweet, sexy Special Agent Lisa Sands right there with him. Judge Thompson’s lie has led to other lies, transforming a routine background check into something nightmarish. When it’s obvious that Monk and Sands will have to investigate the daylights out of the less-than-forthright judge, bewildering obstacles loom in their path. Powerful people take inexplicable positions, and the two Special Agents are well and truly hamstrung. For starters, they’re warned off, then abruptly suspended. And it gets worse. They discover that a hit man is tracking them, highly skilled and relentless. As they dodge and squirm to elude him, they face the bleak but incontrovertible fact that the only way to avoid being killed is to kill first: the highly skilled hit man, then the highly placed person who hired him.

A flawed but charismatic hero in a setting packed with authenticity. The ending does go on a bit, but not enough to spoil the fun.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-31051-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2003