Friday, June 28, 2019

Roger Smith: "The Truth Itself" by James Rayburn

Roger Smith: The Truth Itself by James Rayburn, 2018, 9781538507483.

The great crime writer Roger Smith writes a thriller as James Rayburn.

This has some of the standard political/spy thriller styles: short chapters, constantly shifting POV, slimy bad guys in D.C. who are seemingly immune from the hero's revenge, international travel, 'exotic' locations, commando style expertise, ruthless bad guys who will kill children if needed.

Kate Swift and her young daughter has been living in Northern Vermont for a couple years as Kate runs a gift store. One morning when Kate drops her daughter off at school she zeroes in a on a couple of suspicious teen boys. She sees what is happening and intervenes as the boys start shooting up the school. A couple adults are killed before Kate comes in time to save her daughter and other children. This will be big news so Kate collects her daughter, gets her go-bag, and drives to Montreal.

Kate has been living under an assumed identity since she was called a traitor by her former boss at the CIA, Lucien Benway. Benway set-up Kate after she revealed what awful things Benway was responsible for, including targeting Kate's husband for a drone attack. Kate's husband was a CIA asset but Benway had [reasons] that really just involved him being a trash human. People want Kate dead so Kate needs to start over. To start over she needs help.

Anyhoo. Since Kate needs to get a new identity she goes to Germany to find to a retired CIA pal/supervisor. Retired CIA pal gives her Harry Hooks's address in Thailand. Hook was renowned as a miracle worker when in the CIA but is now mostly a retired drunk. Kate and her daughter go to Thailand. Trouble follows as Hook reluctantly agrees to help and they make plans.

This is not as dark as some of Smith's crime work but there is some rough stuff in here. (I have still not finished one of his crime novels that begins with a man allowing a young child to drown so he can profit off the grieving family. That has been too much for me.) There is a good amount cruelty and sadness here: lonely Kate whose husband was murdered by the CIA, Lucien Benway's bizarre cruelty and control over his wife who suffered wartime rape in Bosnia, Benway's aide-de-camp who is willing to kill anyone - even children.

I enjoyed the book. It has the quick flowing and short chapters of a lot of thrillers. The good guys are mostly black and white with a few shades of grey along the way.


1. Smith has written before about interviewing and chatting with crooks in Cape Town. He's met people who have freely and casually murdered and whose time in prison included cannibalism done to gain status.

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