A first novel from the Pulitzer-winning journalist (Heisenberg’s War, 1993, etc.) examines one of his areas of expertise—the CIA—in a tale of integrity at odds with entrenched bureaucracy, with the fate of a long-missing Vietnam POW hanging in the balance.
Integrity walks the earth inside the Beltway in the form of Brad Cameron, junior CIA officer charged with finding whatever there’s left to find regarding American POWs and MIAs. Just as his boss and mentor, Frank Cabot, is tapped to head the Company after having served as acting director, Brad finds a tantalizing reference to a GI being held in a remote Soviet prison in the late ’70s—more than 20 years earlier. His efforts to find out more set off security alarms all over CIA headquarters, and Brad is promptly reassigned. Undeterred, however, he takes an unauthorized trip to Israel, tracks down the man who originally reported the GI, then returns to Washington and makes another unsettling discovery: his mentor Brad Cameron was the very man sent to the Soviet Union to investigate, though he never made an official report himself. Meanwhile, Cabot’s confirmation is drawing fire, thanks to the sleuthing of a hard-hitting New York Times reporter who’s closing in on the long-held secrets Brad is uncovering, and questions of espionage involving Cabot are raised when the name of Aldrich Ames enters the mix. It then begins to seem that the Carter White House may have requested that the GI be killed rather than admit it made a mistake—and, as if all this weren’t enough, two disgruntled vets begin stalking both Cabot and his main supporter in the Senate, with terminal intentions.
Astoundingly detailed with regard to behind-the-scenes Washington, both in the halls of Congress and at CIA headquarters, but, as may seem clear enough, a tad far-fetched and overwrought.