Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Middleman

The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer
St. Martin's Press: 8/7/18
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781250036179

The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer is a highly recommended political thriller.

One day in 2017 four hundred people disappear, leaving behind everything, all ID, cell phones, family, jobs, and friends. The group is a part of the Massive Brigade, led by social justice warrior Martin Bishop and Ben Mittag, and their first coordinated act is this complete disappearance and silence. The FBI assigns Special Agent Rachel Proulx to follow the group since she has been keeping track of Martin Bishop as well as left-wing political groups, since 2016.

FBI agent, Kevin Moore, is undercover with the Brigade, and has an insider's view of their actions. Between Kevin and Rachel the reader can follow what happens. When the actions taken by the Brigade on July 4th set off a string of events, it seemingly results in the success of the FBI's handling of the incidents and the group, but both Kevin and Rachel know more information than the public. The two end up privately working together to uncover the inside information being kept from the public.

This is a timely thriller with an alternate history timeline that should resonate with many readers who should be able to draw some comparisons to current political/social events. The plot and information is complicated and there is much more going on than you will have answers for until much later in the novel. I appreciated the role the media played in the novel - both being manipulated to create public opinion and making the news follow their ideological slant.

While Rachel and Kevin are both likeable characters, some of the rest of the characters seem less finely drawn. The ultimate cause the brigade is publicly denouncing doesn't quite take on the menace and evil that it should, given the acts carried out by the group and the seriousness of the uncovered information. 

The Middleman is entertaining and engrossing thriller. Steinhauer knows how to create a complicated plot, add in a timely political climate, and slowly allow points to be revealed along the way to the conclusion. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press via Netgalley.

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