Book marketing today is a funny business. There are many books out there with a "thriller" designation attached to their title and quite often; they aren't a thriller on any level. Then there are those books that should have the designation and for whatever unfathomable reason, don't. Those books may not have the designation but should because they are in fact, thrillers. "The Firefly" by the always very enjoyable P. T. Deutermann is a glaring case in point.
After the tragedy of 9/11, Retired Secret Service Agent Swamp Morgan was recalled to active duty, as were hundreds if not thousands of agents and investigators throughout the various federal law enforcement agencies. Swamp is now operating out of a small segment of the large umbrella organization known as the Department of Homeland Security. Swamp is assigned to investigate a strange fire at a local medical clinic as inauguration day fast approaches.
Six weeks ago, a large fire burned at a private clinic specializing in plastic surgery killing two doctors and two nurses. All the bodies, badly charred, were found in an operating room that clearly had just been used for surgery but there was no sign of the patient. The case becomes stranger as the fire burned much hotter than it should have and from all appearances seems to indicate arson. Could the missing patient have done it and if so, why? Then part of a medical transcript of a patient record is found and not only were some possibly illegal activities going on at the clinic but there is some sort of threat to the President. Swamp is tasked with evaluating the information and he is to determine whether the threat is real or not. If not real, it is a firefly and in Washington terms, slap it back down in the grass where it belongs.
Swamp begins to investigate and soon begins to discover evidence-circumstantial and coincidental in the eyes of others-that leads him to suspect this is no firefly but the real deal. Despite public statements to the contrary, control of turf and power still rule the day in Washington and as Swamp pursues his theory as tasked, he begins to lose allies and make powerful new enemies along the way. Those in power sending him out to investigate don't seem to care that he might be right and begin to openly question his judgment. They seem convinced that he is wrong but what if he is right?
This 387-page novel is classic Deutermann. This ninth novel of his features his usual high caliber tight writing with interesting characters and plenty of action. Then there is his ability to lay out the characters and the entire situation and then in a few short pages, flip everything over into a new direction before doing it again and again.
Much like Robert Ludlum did in his early novels, Deutermann creates a world where reality is far different from the perceived illusion. By coming up with wheels within wheels and multiple agendas by almost everyone else but the main character, one never really knows who the players are for real all the way to the last page of his book. In this case, make sure you set aside enough time to finish the last 100 pages in one reading because it is one heck of an intense roller coaster style thrill ride.