Spies and Lies: The Paradox

By Frederick L. Malphurs

Rating:  star star star star star 

IR Verdict:

Book Reviews, eBooks, Fiction, Mystery/Thriller  •  Mar 05, 2013

David Pearl is the head of an intelligence consulting firm that has been languishing for lack of business. However, when he is asked to track down and bring back a Greek diplomat, Nicolaos Polopolis, who has gone AWOL, he gets embroiled in a massive tangle involving Greek smugglers and the Greek mafia, the murder of an American Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, a Russian spy discovered by a middle-aged grandmother in West Virginia, some missing radioactive material, and a great deal more.

All of a sudden, his firm has more work than it can handle, and David himself (along with his new wife, Zoe, who is not everything she seems) may be in dire danger.

The story is gritty and political, reflecting the bureaucracy and intrigue of Washington D.C. life. The reader feels at times as though immersed in the day-to-day life of a busy intelligence firm, meetings and all, with half a dozen problems on its plate at any given time. The action is fast-paced and constantly moving, traveling from place to place and plotline to plotline. Real political figures make occasional cameo appearances, lending vividness and color to the plot.

However, the tangled plotlines are difficult to keep straight, and it is not entirely clear what is going on at times. Characters can be somewhat two-dimensional and sometimes their actions are not terribly believable – David’s love affair with Zoe, for example, feels forced, unprofessional, and far too sudden, and while Polopolis’s antics are childish and nearly insane, the actions taken by the firm in capturing him also seem a bit high-handed and extralegal.

The gritty day-to-day focus of the book can occasionally become tedious, as small talk and innumerable business meetings are interspersed with chases, kidnappings, and other high-speed action. More attention to grammar, spelling and other editing issues would additionally benefit the book – the mistakes are not frequent, but are distracting.

Still, if you enjoy a good thriller, are entertained by political manipulation, and find it a pleasant afternoon’s occupation to trace down multiple plotlines to a final resolution, you will likely enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader