Thursday, April 21, 2011

Novel by former FBI agent Charlie Engar

Two days ago, I received, hot off the press, a novel by my good friend Charlie Engar. Titled Eat, Drink and Be Merry (click on the book title to go to the ordering site), this action thriller has the usual villans: jihadists, insane Russians, expansionist Chinese, and venal U.S. politicians. But most unique and valuable is the FBI/CIA/bureaucratic organizational insight offered by the former FBI agent author. Back in 1976, Charlie Engar was the first man to get to the bodies of the FBI agents murdered by Leonard Peltier (and at least seventeen other people) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Charlie got the plumb assignment to play human target (ie; draw fire) and scout the scene to determine if the site was safe for the other agents in the area. Once you understand just who this author really is, his "voice" in the novel has that incredible ring of authenticity. The career-law-enforcement-professional-versus-the-jackass-politician interplay alone is worth the price of the book. And amazingly, the global forces at work are right out of today's headlines. Which is amazing, since Charlie started the his novel 12 years ago.

If ED&BM (my acronym for the book title) has a flaw, it's only in the first twelve chapters, where the first-time author relies on too much exposition and too little dialogue. But twelve out of ninety-five chapters is forgivable, especially since the final eighty-three chapters blast forward like an out-of-control freight train. I couldn't put the book down, literally. I had to get up for a volunteer assignment at 4:15 AM this morning, yet I read until almost midnight so I could finish it last night. Now I badly need a nappy-poo.

I don't want to spoil the plot development or resolution, but let me assure you that ED&BM is a worst-case scenario of today's global dynamic. This shouldn't have surprised me, given my longstanding friendship with the author. We started riding bicycles together back in 1995, and I've put between 4,000 and 7,000 miles a year on the bike since then, thousands of them riding with Charlie. You get to know a guy pretty well as you race up and down Utah mountains, trying to psych each other out and win the race to the next highway sign or to the summit of a hill. It is the nature of Charlie, this former FBI agent—who always drew the short straw to become target practice for the bad guys—to anticipate the worst possible situation and yet not shirk from facing it head on. I've written elsewhere that someone dies at the end of a "chick flick," whereas people die throughout a "guy flick." This is definitely the "guy flick" genre. In spades.

Chuck got to know me pretty well, too, given the note he wrote on the title page of my copy:  "To my riding buddy Rick—the inspiration for the main character." Yeah, his main character is Senator Rick Benson (pretty close to Rick Bennett, eh?). No wonder I like Senator Rick so much. He acts like I would on this roller coaster ride of a novel. I recommend it highly.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?