For 10 years, lawyer Pullara pursued the mysterious 1993 murder of diplomat and CIA agent Freddie Woodruff in the Soviet Republic of Georgia. In his first book, he unspools his findings.
An expert in complex commercial litigation who felt a “suspicion about the sincere pronouncements by the US government” after he had completed a long investigation into the dubious circumstances of his father’s death in the Vietnam War, the author, who knew Woodruff’s family earlier in his life, did not buy the official version of Woodruff’s murder. After postings in Berlin, Leningrad, Ankara, and Ethiopia, Woodruff was working at the embassy in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi when he was murdered on a mountain road (supposedly “a random act of violence”) during a “sightseeing trip” in August 1993. The car had been driven by the chief bodyguard of Eduard Shevardnadze, who had become acting chairman of the State Council of Georgia after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. As Pullara vividly recounts, so many of the details didn’t make sense—e.g., that Woodruff was in Georgia to train Shevardnadze’s security force, as well as the numerous ill-fitting circumstances about the murder itself. Moreover, when the murder was conveniently blamed on Anzor Sharmaidze, a young former Soviet trainee, evidently under torture, the author sought to figure out the role CIA operations officer and secret Russian spy Aldrich Ames might have played in the affair; Ames was arrested by the FBI for espionage less than two weeks after Sharmaidze was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1994. From diving deep into FBI documents to repeatedly visiting the country and tracking down the shadowy protagonists, Pullara does a fine job of sleuthing to get at what he believes is the truth.
A highly detailed, engrossing work that incorporates a history of fledgling Georgia amid the author’s well-demonstrated “passion for mysteries…[and] memory for trivia.”