In this suspenseful mix of fact and fiction, a disillusioned agent for the Bureau of Investigation journeys to post–World War I France and Germany to search for the remains of Theodore Roosevelt’s war-hero son.
In his provocative, politically charged 2011 thriller, Devil’s Den, set in 1923, Ashby (Time Fall, 2013, etc.) introduced Seth Armitage, an agent assigned to find a killer targeting elderly veterans of the Civil War. By the end of that skillful merging of fiction and American history, a bitter Armitage resigned and joined his father’s Virginia law practice. Now, two years later, he’s been called to Washington, D.C., by new Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover to rejoin the fold and solve a case involving Armitage’s distant relatives the Roosevelts. In real life, the remains of Theodore Roosevelt’s WWI–pilot son, Quentin, were buried with honors in France and exhumed after T.R.’s death for transport to the United States. Ashby, a former senior U.S. Commerce Department official and counterterrorism consultant to the U.S. State Department, uses that exhumation as a springboard for a juicy work featuring conspiracy and corruption in high places. The body in Quentin’s grave, it turns out, is someone else’s, and Armitage’s job is to find out what happened to the young war hero. Haunted by his own memories of the battlefield, Armitage travels to France and then to Germany, shadowed by a sadistic killer who’s been hired to keep the truth from coming out. Another complication: a beautiful agent for the French intelligence service with her own lethal agenda. Ashby supplies impressively researched settings as he describes his complex hero, Hoover’s dark, power-grabbing machinations, the killer’s secret mission of horrific revenge, and the terrible realities of the trenches. He also touches on the rise of Adolf Hitler as a key element of the story. The result is a riveting work of political intrigue, layered with resonances of the past and present.
A highly readable series installment that weaves real-world history into a deft, dynamic historical thriller.