The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer
St. Martin's Press: 8/7/18
eBook review copy; 368 pages
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
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
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press via Netgalley.