It is one thing to write a work of fiction about the Federal Reserve; it is quite another to make it equal parts informative, riveting and believable without sacrificing one quality for another. Mark de Castrique has done just that with THE 13th TARGET. de Castrique, a veteran of the television and film production industry who is arguably best known for his Buryin’ Barry and Sam Brown series of mystery novels, has crafted a timely and memorable stand-alone work about an institution that affects the lives and well-being of virtually every person in the United States but is understood by only a relative few. Reading this book will change the latter condition.
"de Castrique’s pacing is perfect from beginning to end. Though dealing with some extremely complex subject matter, he presents it in a way that is informative and absorbing while being considerate of the reader and never letting his explanations get in the way of the story."
The primary protagonist is Russell Mullins, an immediately likable former Secret Service agent. Mullins left the agency following the death of his wife and took his considerable skill set to a private protection company. His assignment to guard Paul Luguire, a Federal Reserve executive and the powerful bank’s liaison with the United States Treasury, leads to a friendship between the two men, who share similar joys and tragedies in their lives. So it is that when Mullins receives a late-night call informing him that Luguire has committed suicide, he is more than skeptical. As events subsequently unfold, Mullins becomes more convinced that Luguire’s death is but one incident of many that is leading to a major and devastating event.
Amanda Church, a former Secret Service colleague of Mullins who is now a member of the Reserve’s cyber-security unit, discovers that Luguire initiated a financial transaction only days before his death, a transaction that ultimately leads back to Mullins. The unthinkable then occurs when another individual connected to the Federal Reserve is murdered. Someone appears to be targeting the executives and is trying to frame Mullins for it. With few friends and some very dangerous adversaries, Mullins must not only clear his own good name but also prevent what appears to be the planned destruction of America’s financial system. But how can he accomplish this when the entity that pulls the strings is almost as secretive as the mastermind who is pulling the strings that seemingly will lead to its end?
de Castrique’s pacing is perfect from beginning to end. Though dealing with some extremely complex subject matter, he presents it in a way that is informative and absorbing while being considerate of the reader and never letting his explanations get in the way of the story. Further, his character development is first-rate. One cares about Mullins practically from the first paragraph, an emotion that continues all the way through to its conclusion. That is not to say, though, that the book sacrifices story for characters or information. THE 13th TARGET is full of surprises, double-crosses and dangers; de Castrique is still lobbing story grenades at the reader even as it concludes.
While the book is complete in itself, you will wonder about what takes place after the last page is read. For the answer, check next week’s headlines: one gets the feeling that de Castrique knows more than he tells.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 14, 2012