The novel Defector in Our Midst offers a new angle on international terrorism on U.S. soil: Muslim terrorists use electromagnetic pulse (EMP) technology to knock out electricity in key American targets.
Standing in their way is CIA agent Myk McGrath, whose family history gives the tale a deeper element, one that interweaves the destruction of a small Czechoslovakian town by Nazis in 1942 with both his upbringing and the current threat to America.
In the acknowledgments, author Tom Fitzgerald includes a list of real-life facts that inspired certain incidents and characters in the book (some of them altered in the book, some not.) This suggests a basis in reality for the book’s developments and an intention to take the subject matter somewhat seriously, but Defector in Our Midst is strictly pulp fiction; it’s as thoughtful about international terrorism as Rambo: First Blood Part II was regarding the Vietnam POWs.
McGrath is essentially a superhero lacking any colorful flaws, which makes him largely uninteresting. The exposition is doled out bluntly, and there’s little nuance to be found, either in setting descriptions or characterizations. The dialogue often leans toward speechifying and overheated statements, particularly McGrath’s über-patriotic declarations to the Muslim terrorists, such as: “And you can thank me when those seventy-two virgins don’t join you in hell after I kill your sorry ass.”
On the upside, the action scenes are furiously paced and articulated well, and the author displays a solid understanding of how to vividly set a scene without bogging down the story.
Readers who prefer more sophistication in their thrillers will do best to look elsewhere. But those who enjoy a straight-up action story with few dalliances for deep thought could find this an acceptably engaging and fast-moving read.
Also available in hardcover.