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THE MIDDLEMAN by Olen Steinhauer


by Olen Steinhauer

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-03617-9
Publisher: Minotaur

A thoroughly modern thriller, as real as the news.

“The Massive Brigade,” an organization similar to the Occupy movement, has captured the attention of the media and the people. Rolling Stone runs a profile, and the FBI takes notice. When a phone tip reveals the Brigade has cached a Stinger missile, it crosses the line from protest movement to terrorist threat. The FBI, in the person of Special Agent Rachel Proulx, arrives at a party too late to arrest the Brigade’s leaders, Martin Bishop and Ben Mittag, and they disappear into the American landscape, along with about 400 of their followers, who similarly vanish. The FBI has an undercover agent, Kevin Moore, among the vanished, permitting the plot to follow the dual tracks of the FBI’s efforts to find the Brigade and the Brigade’s internal turmoil, which meet in a shootout. The media declares victory for the FBI, careers are advanced, and the movement seems dismantled. But the FBI’s subsequent account of the bloodbath, at first kept secret and then released only because of public pressure, differs from the experiences of Proulx and Moore. The two unite in hopes of uncovering who is being protected and why, and the Massive Brigade survives, in some form, to play a role in the denouement. Steinhauer (All the Old Knives, 2015, etc.) is a veteran, a real pro; the issues raised in this well-paced thriller are serious and timely, and the characters are believable and likable. But the targets of the Brigade, corporate conspiracy and the protection of the rich from public scrutiny, never quite reach a viscerally threatening level, and the individuals who conspire to preserve the status quo seem merely bureaucratically venal.

A professional and entertaining thriller a little short on menace.