Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Resident Agent by David A. Charters - Became Personal Favorite in 2023


Semaskis Island, afternoon 

As planned, Carol was upstairs when Slim and his handler arrived. She didn’t see them but could hear them loud and clear through her earbuds, tuned to the Febreze recording device. Bud had placed it on a shelf in the living room when no one was looking. Slim’s voice was a slightly high-pitched wheeze. His handler, clearly the man who referred to himself as Karl, spoke tersely, with a heavy Eastern European accent. She could also hear Bud distinctly, chatting casually as he brought in the sandwiches, fruit, and drinks. Jon was near Karl but said little. Voices were muffled as they ate and made small talk. 

Carol glanced into her makeup bag; the two flashing lights indicated the recorder was catching everything: audio and video. Good. She dropped an extra pair of panties over it to make sure it remained hidden in case one of the goons came by to check on her. With that in mind, she had also transferred her pistol from the makeup bag to her purse, unzipped beside her on the couch. And if the goons decided to check, she could switch her earbuds instantly to a playlist:

 Michael BublĂ©, Jimmy Buffett, and Shania Twain. “So. Mr. Hayes, please lock the door when you leave,” Karl instructed. “Dr. Endell and I have business to discuss. Harrison, you stay here and run my video camera.” Endell. So that’s his name. Carol heard the door close and the lock click into place. Bud’s footsteps then faded into the kitchen. Osbert opened the discussion. “I promised something earthshaking. Shall I proceed?” “By all means,” Karl replied in a neutral tone. “As you may know, up to now the US has used its satellites only as collectors—for photos, missile detection, ELINT, SIGINT, et cetera. But that is about to change in a big way. ...

“But surely this is impossible!” Karl exclaimed. “One satellite alone would do all of this? For the whole world?” “Oh, no. There would be a constellation of them in geosynchronous orbit, covering the entire globe. And they can be slaved to each other. If the original primary is knocked out, any one of them can take over as primary. We—the US—would need only this one class of satellites, not the dozen or so different types we employ now. The cost savings—from construction to launch vehicles—will be immense. The US could probably cut its overhead reconnaissance budget in half, while gaining capacity it could only dream of a few years ago. Project High Diamond is the future of spying from space, and my company created it!” Holy crap! thought Carol. This is even bigger than we thought. 

Karl responded with as much enthusiasm as his voice allowed. “Thank you. This is obviously of interest to my people, since it has grave implications for our security. So we are grateful that you have brought it to our attention. It serves the interests of peace.” “For a price, of course,” Endell interjected hastily. “Remember?” “Of course, of course. We always honor such arrangements. The funds you requested are being transferred to a bank overseas as we speak. The deposit is inaccessible except by you.” “Good, good. And the girl?” 

“She is waiting for you upstairs. You will be thoroughly entertained, I am sure.” Not if I can help it, Carol thought. Karl spoke again. “But before pleasure comes business. I am impressed by your survey. But of course I am not an expert. Can you provide some additional technical detail on the record that would allow our scientists to test and verify the potential you describe?” “Certainly.” Osbert then launched into an extended monologue that Carol found too complex to follow. It started with AI and autonomous systems, then moved on to multispectral collection, quantum computing and nano-circuitry, self-correcting algorithmics, geomatics, and signal security. Along the way, he described equations and diagrams that he wrote on a flip chart. Carol took a quick look at the video recording as he spoke and got her first glimpse of Slim and Karl. 

She was stunned by Endell’s girth, but even more by the fact that he was speaking without any notes or documents—not even a laptop or tablet. Everything was coming out of his brain. Karl, by contrast, looked like a central casting Rambo wannabe. And from his facial expression and the few questions he posed, it was clear that Karl was well out of his comfort zone... 


Dare I hint at the climax when I am just beginning to talk about this book, which, in the end, became one of my favorite books... You see, it wasn't the climax, although it definitely was an exciting event, that, in the end, was what swayed my attention... Indeed, it was the rest of the book after that fantastic scene from which I found the real story... One that Carol had been asking about since they had first come together... again...

Weaving in and out of the past and present, readers will hear of the first meeting of the two main characters, Carol, who is now a FBI Special Agent, and a friend she had met very early in her life. He was a friend of her one-time male relationship that ended when she was raped... Bud had cared for Carol, even then, but after what happened, he couldn't bring himself to even contact her. 

Carol had come to care about him, mainly because her boyfriend would be doing something else and Carol would spend time...waiting for him... But it was decades before the time when a case--a murder case--brought the two together again. Bud had been put in as acting detective in the small town law office when a body had been found in nearby New Castle, Maine... When it was determined that the body had apparently been dropped from an airplane, it became an FBI matter... And the two worked the case separately and together.

I wanted to highlight the location because I noticed that the author had worked to enhance the locale through the language of the area's residents. Even though I'd never been there, I'm fairly certain that the writer had achieved the colloquial life in the state. It was fun and interesting to watch the changes, especially as the main character moved into the area.

Also, this book had a scene very similar to one of mine, and, which, I will be writing about next...

Carol Evans was on her way to what she considered was the next step forward in her career. Working in Boston. However, coincidentally, the resident agent for Portland Maine had died, and Carol, having once lived in the state, was being side-tracked (her word, not mine). She was not happy...

Until she realized that she still had feelings for Bud, with whom she would be working the case...

The individual who had been found murdered was a news blogger and he had been investigating how the land was being sold in the area. In fact, he even recorded what happened when he attempted to determine who bought a lone island off the coast of the state. One where he was met by arm guards... Of course, all of this was discovered during the investigation. An investigation whose scope was getting bigger and bigger as more people were identified... 

So…” The band had reassembled, lead guitarist Steve Somers picked out the melody, and their frontman, Vern Zwicker, started to croon Neil Diamond’s Play Me. Bud and Carol listened through the first verse before he said, “So, Special Agent Evans, would you care to dance?” She stood and took his hand. “Thought you’d never ask.” 

* * *

Great mystery, great dialogue, cool romance...and an emotional, memorable ending with a look at an American soldier, captured and tortured while in Afghanistan... Thank you David Charters for not stopping at the usual climatic ending... It was and is important for all of us to realize exactly what each soldier may be forced to endure as a result of working to save our Freedom--Our Democracy, like no other!


No comments:

Post a Comment