By Frederick L. Malphurs

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

The names and the locales have changed, but the intelligence game remains the same in Frederick Malphurs over-the-top techno-thriller.

The world is changing:  U.S. intelligence services are no longer done in-house.  They are contracted out.  The result is that many active agents, such as protagonist David Pearl, are let go.  Knowing nothing else, Pearl reinvents himself, becoming a government intelligence contractor.  He starts his own company, a company that gathers intelligence and provides security consulting.  Meanwhile, all sorts of activities are taking place in the dark alleyways of skullduggery:  a high-ranking U.S. official is murdered while jogging on a treadmill in a fitness center; a Greek diplomat breaks the unspoken rules of the Greek mafia and is forced to run for his life. 

David Pearl is hired to find the diplomat and bring him back.  His search is complicated by the presence of a gorgeous female Greek intelligence officer, who is sent along to help find the missing diplomat.  Pearl and the girl find the diplomat, who is so reluctant to return that he assumes Pearl’s identity and disappears once again.  At this point, the action really blasts off, becoming grittier than any Vince Flynn novel. 

Along the way, the author introduces myriad characters that appear to be nothing but window-dressing.  No one is who they seem to be and, like a giant Rubik’s cube, nothing seems to fit in place.  Guesswork and hunches predominate; opinions mutate into facts.  And facts are molded by the powers that be to conform to the latest set of policies and protocols.  David Pearl and his band of eccentrics have to sift through the truth to find the underlying reality.  But in the end, somehow, almost magically, the author brings all the loose ends together, which results in one heck of a slam-bang climax.

Spies and Lies is an intricate, action-filled, spy novel that moves at break-neck speed. On the Read-O-Meter, it receives four stars and a big thumbs up.