It's late October 1942, Jimmy Nessheim is a law student
at the University of Chicago; he never passed the
physicals to enlist and he is a bit at a loss as to what
the future holds for him. Things start to look up when a
new student joins his class, his one-time love, Stacey
Madison. At nearly 30 years of age, Nessheim has already
been an FBI agent, and that part of his life had seemed
over and done with, until he is told about a most secret
project that even J. Edgar Hoover doesn't know about.
Nessheim had previously gone undercover in a case dealing
with Nazi supporters in America, and it now appears that
there is a Nazi infiltrator, possibly posing as a Jewish
refugee, who wants to gets his hands on the atomic bomb
that is being built in America!
THE ACCIDENTAL AGENT is the type of book that one must
know beforehand that it is fiction, because it just feels
so real, especially as historical figures make up an
intrinsic part of the narrative. Mr. Rosenheim's research
is exemplary as I was totally immersed in the Chicago of
WWII: every little historical detail contributes to the
veracity of the story, be it topographical or
technological mentions, the political reality, or simple
day-to-day activities. One of my favourite characters is
Enrico Fermio, who is utterly irresistible; it's obvious
all his scientific accomplishments are real, but I kept
wondering if the real man resembled the fictitious
Enrico. I also liked Harry Guttman, a fictional FBI
Assistant Director: he's flawed, patriotic to a fault,
often totally unpredictable, and fascinating as only such
a fully-fleshed character can be.
The romantic angle was
a tad problematic for me; I never warmed up to Stacey,
and I still can't fathom what didn't work. I did have an
issue with the pacing: the first half of THE ACCIDENTAL
AGENT is very slow. Granted, the premise had to be
established and the main players introduced, but it could
have been done a bit more briskly, on the other hand, the
myriad details were riveting. Thankfully, the paced
picked up in the second half; I must admit that, having
read hundreds of spy novels, I had figured out most of
the who-what-why of the story, however a plot twist left
me completely stunned, and the best/worst is that it was
entirely realistic, and that was quite a coup!
In spite of how this review might sound, I am very much
looking forward to the next instalment in this series, as
it is now 1943 for Jimmy Nessheim, the war isn't over by
far, and there is so much more to tell. The astounding
attention to period and scientific detail, the eloquent
writing, the flawless blend of fictional and historical
characters, and the superb dialogues contribute to make
THE ACCIDENTAL AGENT an engrossing read.
The spellbinding conclusion to the Jimmy Nessheim trilogy,
by the author of Fear Itself
Fall, 1942. In the midst of war, Special Agent Jimmy
Nessheim has asked for extended leave from the FBI. Becoming
a law student at the University of Chicago seems like the
perfect way to re-enter normal civilian life.
But the University of Chicago is home to more than an
erstwhile FBI agent. Deep under the stands at Staff Field,
renowned scientist Enrico Fermi is beginning work on what
will become known as the Manhattan Project, research that
could not only change the course of the war, but change the
face of war itself.
Perfectly placed to assist, Nessheim is persuaded by his
superiors to return to duty to guard this precious research.
Soon he begins to suspect a Nazi infiltrator has gained
access to the project, and he must track down the traitor.
Almost simultaneously, Nessheim's old flame Madison, an
heiress with left-wing sympathies, finds him in Chicago. But
is her reappearance a coincidence?
Drawn once again into a web of international intrigue,
Nessheim faces his most deadly threat yet.