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Posted February 2, 2009
DIALOGUE SO SHARP IT CUTS LIKE A KNIFE
Daring, resourceful FBI Agent Ana Grey has been in some pretty tough scrapes (North of Montana, Good Killer). However, the situation she's in with her latest adventure is more than a scrape - it's a wound that could prove fatal. Still emotionally fragile following a shooting incident Ana has been through what is called 'critical incident training, psychoanalyzing with other agents who have been through a life-changing trauma,' and is deemed ready to return to duty. But she hardly has time to fall into step again when fellow agent Steve Crawford is blown to pieces while undercover investigating FAN (Free Animals Now). Solution? Send in Ana. First she undergoes rigorous (an understatement) training at the FBI's undercover school from which she will eventually emerge as Darcy DeGuzman, a feisty, broke animal lover in a sixties leather jacket that 'looks like Jackie Kennedy on the skids.' Her task is to infiltrate FAN, a cover for a terrorist group based in Oregon led by an unstable megalomaniac, Julius Emerson Phelps. She first hooks up with Megan Tewsbury whom she considers to be a warm hearted woman who will be her entree into the group. She's right - partially. Megan is an alias for a former Berkeley professor driven out and into the arms of Julius who is actually former FBI agent Dick Stone. Living with them on an isolated farm are Sara, a waif-like runaway and Slammer, an addicted miscreant. All are looking forward to what Stone calls 'the Big One.' Actually, penetrating the group was the easy part for Ana because she soon discovers that Stone knows far too much. She is sure that someone, perhaps even a powerful figure at the Bureau is feeding him information. Who can she trust, if anyone? Perhaps more importantly who will protect her? April Smith's dialogue is sharp, cutting like a knife as the story builds to its inexorable conclusion. Judas Horse is not only an action packed thriller but an imagined story so plausible, so current that it could be tomorrow's bold headline. - Gail CookeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
Excellent FBI thriller
Seven months ago, FBI Special Agent Ana Grey was forced to shoot 'a crazed detective on a suicide mission'. Her badge and weapon was confiscated as is normal procedure while the Office of Professional Responsibility works with the agent on administrative leave to cope with the psychological trauma of a life changing incident they determine when an agent returns to duty. When the agent does another agent escorts them back to the office. For April that was her friend Steve Crawford. --- Soon afterward he vanished leaving the insomniac April with another reason not to sleep. Now Steve¿s remains was found scattered by a hiker on Oregon's Cascade Mountains apparently a victim of a homemade bomb. Ana goes undercover to infiltrate the anarchist most likely to have perpetrated the execution, Free the Animals (FAN) so as to obtain evidence of who killed Steve and how big of terrorist threat this group is. She quickly realizes that former FBI agent Dan ¿Allfather¿ Stone has something horrific in mind that he dubs 'the Big One'. --- The third April Smith FBI thriller (see GOOD MORNING, KILLER and NORTH OF MONTANA) is a fabulous tale in which the heroine has a difficult task to obtain information re The Big One while staying alive. The difficulty in what she does is simply that the FAN members distrust everyone even themselves as Stone especially knows the Feds will be back with a new infiltrator now that they have learned what happened to Crawford. In this milieu of obsessive behavior Ana remains calm as she deals with brilliant lunatics over the edge. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 26, 2008
Compelling 'FBI procedural'
I love crime novels, and can't think of too many other books that so expertly capture the ins and outs of Bureau work as do April Smith's. Despite the rather spooky and off-putting cover image of a faceless horse, and the somewhat off-the-wall subject matter (domestic terrorism to protect wild mustangs?), 'Judas Horse' is one of the best thrillers so far this year. (I think the word 'mystery' on the jacket lumps the book into the P.D. James/Elizabeth George traditional mystery-type novels, which this definitely is not.) Here, FBI agent Ana Grey is after the killer of fellow agent and former fiance Steve Crawford. The trail quickly leads her to a radical animal rights group similar to PETA, who use violence to advance their cause. Grey learns that Crawford had infiltrated FAN (Free Animals Now) in an attempt to prevent them from further acts of terrorism. The stakes are raised when, during the course of her own deep cover work in the organization, Grey helps identify and must contend with a former FBI agent gone bad who disappeared while undercover with radical anti-Vietnam War protesters in the 1970's. Now operating under an alias, he's one of the ringleaders in a dangerous plan to save some wild mustangs from improper handling by the BLM. (Sounds hokey but believe me, it's not.) I really liked the inside look Smith gives us of the inner workings of the FBI, from the realistic details on undercover training exercises to the technical aspects of the job, from creation of phony documents and identities to the various gadgets used by the FBI like miniature satellite phones. Not to mention how these warriors really think in the daily grind of their difficult jobs. I also found the backgrounds of some of the modern anarchists to be fascinating: what happened to all those denizens of the counterculture thirty-five years and more ago? Some of them became mainstream, law-abiding citizens, more like their parents than they'd ever admit. Others, like the ones April Smith writes about in 'Judas Horse', found new causes to fight for within ever more sophisticated (and more dangerous) pseudo-terrorist organizations. Yet another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the present tense narration, which lends an immediacy and a 'you are there' feel to the story. It reminded me of a film script, which I guess is no surprise, since the author has an entertainment background. All in all, 'Judas Horse' is a great read. Also recommended: 'A STRANGER LIES THERE' - this mystery won the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery. It's main character is also a former 1970's radical, whose past comes back to haunt him one morning in the form of a dead body on his front lawn.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.