The top-secret facility perched in a remote part of the Mojave Desert is known as Camp X. It's a high-walled compound bristling with antennas and satellite dishes, and is the brainchild of James Jesus Angleton, the long-serving CIA Chief of Counterintelligence.
Angleton dispatches his most trusted aide, posing as US Army Lt. Dick Nolan, to Needles, California, to investigate the strange death of the man who disposed of Camp X's highly-classified refuse. Lt. Nolan's initial inquiry indicates that the trash hauler's 'accidental' death was actually an elaborate KGB assassination. However, further investigation suggests to Nolan that the man's death was staged to make it look like a Soviet hit.
And then, as the bizarre story of Camp X unfolds, Lt. Nolan begins to suspect that his boss may have succumbed to the demons that often plague the CIA Chief of Counterintelligence - more commonly known as The Paranoid in Chief. The story takes an even darker turn when Nolan's wife and daughter disappear from the family home in Falls Church, VA.
This novel is set in the context of that terrible year of assassinations and riots and geopolitical turmoil: 1968.
|Publisher:||Blue Steel Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
John Knoerle moved to LA in 1977 and did stand-up comedy, opening for the likes of Jay Leno and Robin Williams. John co-founded Sound Concepts, Inc. in1978 where he wrote, produced and voiced radio and TV commercials until 2006.
Knoerle wrote the screenplay for Quiet Fire, which starred Karen Black, and the stage play The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, an LA Time’s Critic’s Choice. He also worked as a staff writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
Knoerle moved to Chicago in 1996 with his wife Judie. His first novel, “Crystal Meth Cowboys,” was optioned by Fox TV. His second novel, “The Violin Player,” won the 2003 Mayhaven Award for Fiction. John Knoerle’s novel, “A Pure Double Cross,” was the first volume of his American Spy Trilogy. The second volume, “A Despicable Profession,” was published in 2010. Book Three, “The Proxy Assassin,” was named one of the best indie books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews.
“Beer and Gasoline”, Knoerle’s latest, and probably last, novel was completed and published in 2017.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17) “Beer and Gasoline” by John Knoerle is quite a different way to write a story in that it gave detailed conversations with various characters through taped interviews or encrypted messages between the CIA Chief and his trusted aide. The story revolves around Camp X, a top-secret facility in the Mojave Desert in 1968. Lt. Dick Nolan is sent to investigate the death of a spy who was disguised as a trash collector at the camp. Nolan encounters local law enforcement in the small town of Needles, CA, whose biggest worry is domestic violence calls and beer hall fights. Since all the native people there are quite familiar with the desert heat and potential for death, they are able to provide great insight into local happenings. I did find it interesting that there were several theories on why the trash collector was killed, from “fake death,” to KGB interference, to the CIA Chief deliberately turning on his agents. I found it wasn’t until about halfway through that the book started getting to the point, however I did find the story line to be quite believable, and reminded me of current news headlines today. The author was very descriptive in his writing about the heat of the desert, and you can actually feel the heat and need for water in the opening of his story. I loved Officer Bell of the Needles Police Department; he acted like a small town country policeman, and was smarter than he appeared. Being able to identify tire track marks with Pledge was quite genius on the author’s part and that of the native tribal ways. At first I didn’t quite understand the need for the letters from Nolan and his wife and daughter, but in the end, I got it. “Beer and Gasoline” is the latest in the trilogy series for John Knoerle that reads well as a standalone story. It includes historical facts, humor and a slow build up of spy mission adventures. If you are a fan of historical fiction, espionage, and thrillers you will like this uniquely designed read.
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Beer and Gasoline is an historical fiction thriller written by John Knoerle. The fact that his boss, CIA’s Counterintelligence Chief of Staff, James J. Angleton, had sent him on an assignment that would ordinarily have been assigned to one of his field agents, had senior Case Officer Hal Schroeder trying to figure out just what his brilliant if eccentric boss had in mind. Schroeder didn’t really mind the assignment. The open expanses of the Mojave Desert and the small town of Needles were welcome changes from the close confines of Washington, DC and the need to constantly be undercover. He also liked working with Needles Police Officer, Tom Bell, as they tried to find out just what happened to Jeremiah McLemore, a trash hauler who had contracted with the government to pick up refuse from Camp X, a top-secret army training facility. Bell was a friend of McLemore, and he had recounted the hauler’s tale about being approached by a foreigner who was willing to pay the hauler for access to Camp X’s garbage. After McLemore’s body was found in a remote part of the Mojave Desert where he and Bell had frequently gone to relax and have a few beers, Schroeder began to find the story of the KGB’s involvement to be increasingly less persuasive and he began to wonder if the whole setup, including his assignment there, was not more, and less, than what it seemed. John Knoerle’s historical fiction thriller, Beer and Gasoline, begins with an introduction by an anonymous editor, who states that the documents that follow tell an important story. What follows is a collection of journal entries, transcripts and letters that collectively form one of the most engrossing and exciting Cold War thrillers I’ve read in some time. I grew up loving Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and his Smiley books, seeing in them a much more accurate look at the lives of secret agents than the fictionalized glamour of James Bond. Le Carre’s heroes were lonely, deeply introspective, flawed beings who were cast in the most difficult and isolating situations, and Knoerle’s engrossing hero and his story rank right up there with Le Carre’s work. Knoerle’s Hal Schroeder is a one-off in the fact that he’s happily married with a teenage daughter, even if his six-week imposed absence while on assignment recreates the isolation that field officers do their work in. His partnership with Officer Tom Bell is a joy to behold as the two very different individuals become an empathetic and tightly knit team. The setting in Needles and the Mojave Desert is marvelous. As a desert dweller, I appreciated the way Knoerle brings the savage and often harsh beauty of the Mojave so vividly to life. Knoerle’s plot is a thinking reader’s dream, filled with twists and turns as the veteran spook faces the most significant assignment of his career. Beer and Gasoline is the kind of book you can’t bear to put down, and then regret when the last page is read. This first-rate espionage thriller is most highly recommended.