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OVERWATCH
by Marc Guggenheim
Mulholland Books, April 2014
296 pages
$26.00
ISBN: 0316212474


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

For those who love a good conspiracy, OVERWATCH will feed the soul. In this case, the mystery starts from the perspective of a brash lawyer, the privileged son of a Washington insider whose father has gotten him every job he ever had. True, Alex Garnett has a law degree and a series of accomplishments behind him when he decides to make a career change and try the CIA. Yet, even there, the shadow of his father lingers.

When Alex is sent to represent the agency in a routine divorce matter (to make sure the husband's status as a CIA officer isn't compromised), he uncovers a strange, unexplainable blip in the man's checking account, in which millions have gone in and gone out in the matter of minutes. While the wife's divorce lawyer questions the transaction, it's explained away by a bank error. Why then is there a series of random deaths shortly after the hearing, all of the victims apparently linked to the divorce proceedings?

Garnett is clearly in over his head, not only as a lawyer (tangential to the core mission of the CIA), but also as a new employee. Whom can he trust? His only sure ally is another new employee, a hacker with

access to CIA records. In a continuing series of missteps, Garnett gets ever closer to the truth and a far bigger revelation about the agency he is working for. Of course, that way lies danger. Garnett is fearless, but when those around him start becoming threatened, he begins to rethink his strategies, even as he begins to piece together the mysteries that help reveal the truth.

Marc Guggenheim creates a suspense-filled mystery, with plenty of interesting twists and a strong legal perspective (based on his own years as an attorney). And while the story is wholly believable throughout most of the book, the ending begins to defy reality, particularly when Garnett has been released from the agency, but manages to find a way back in (not to mention gaining access to restricted parts of the Langley complex).

Nevertheless, this is fiction, and some suspension of reality makes the story work. Until the reality-defying ending, Guggenheim does a good job of luring his readers in and keeping them guessing.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, June 2014

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