||IDEVCO Intellectual Propertries
In this third in the Irwin Glass series, Irwin is asked by the FBI to provide information about his Muslim students. By degrees Irwin is drawn in as an FBI informant with disastrous results.
In the first book of the series, "Betrayal", Irwin got a job in Moscow at the American Library but was soon seduced in a honeypot scheme that destroyed his career. Unable to ever work in a government job, and on the no fly list as an alleged paid Soviet agent, he had to rebuilt his life, ending up at Michigan Institute of Technology where he was accosted by a Russian girl student who claimed he was her birth father from that night in Moscow. In that first book Irwin is betrayed by everyone, but in the second book, "Retribution," when asked to help interrograte the kGB officer who set up the seduction in the first book, Irwinlearns the techniques and gets his own back, but is nearly killed in the process, saved by his wife Ivy and that mysterious Russian daughter. In "Burnt Out," Irwin is roped into being an informant onthe Muslim students at the university, a sequence of events that climaxes with the fire bombing of the local synagogue. The terrorist is killed, but his identity leads to more investiagtion and suppositions that may not be true.
It was a Wednesday morning when I got a surprise visit at the office from Mr. Wilkins, the FBI guy from Marquette. I thought it was a social call, but Wilkins’s style can be oblique, friendly only to a point.
Wilkins isn’t your stereotypical FBI guy in dark glasses with a long coat to conceal god knows what arsenal of firearms. Wilkins is a Yooper, a lifelong resident of the Upper Peninsula, stationed in Marquette a hundred miles to the east. He has a droopy mustache and wears a tarnished brass American eagle belt buckle the size of a saucer, an old fashioned, checkered mackinaw jacket and a knit wool cap that warms his balding forehead. In the parlance of detective stories he’s good cop most of the time. I like him, especially if I’m not charged with anything or being investigated for laundering Russian money or caught in a riddle of who shot Ivan the Terrible in our kitchen with a 9 mm Glock.
Wilkins was the one who pointed out to me that if Katya really was my daughter she was entitled to US citizenship. I’m still not sure that was a good thing to know. On that point I’m ambivalent.
“Oh, Mr. Wilkins,” I said, putting on my friendly smile but feeling a tad uneasy. “What brings you to da Tech?”
“Da Tech” is the local abbreviation for Michigan Institute of Technology.
“Thought I’d check up on you.” Wilkins’s tone was friendly, almost joking, the kind of tease meant to disarm and rattle at the same time.
“Katya’s out in Oregon, if you’re looking for her.”
It wasn’t that. Wilkins paused, waiting for me to confess, I suppose.
I was compelled to say something. “You’re not wondering if I’m laundering Mafia money? That’s settled.”
“Nothing like that.” He almost said “dat,” the local Yooper dialect.
“You didn’t drive a hundred miles just to say hello.”
Wilkins admitted, “It’s a nice drive at this time of year.”
We call it color season in the UP. Forty different species of trees make for a glorious kaleidoscope of autumn leaves.
Wilkins closed my office door, sat down in the guest chair and unbuttoned his red and black Mackinaw jacket. I glimpsed his ever present shoulder holster. “I could use your help in something. Nothing major. Just a courtesy.”
That did not sound innocent. “If you’re trying to recruit me, I don’t do stakeouts or stuff like that. You know how I am with guns.”
“Mildly incompetent,” he affirmed.
“Don’t rub it in.”
He got to the point at last. “I see that you’ve got three sections of English for foreign students.”
“That’s right. You must have read the catalog.” Michigan Tech has over a thousand foreign students and they come from about a hundred countries, most in need of engineers so the graduates can go home and whip our butts making things we used to while Americans are reduced to service jobs like burger flipping at MacDonald’s. While our local kids are getting into perpetual hock with student loans the foreign students are subsidized by their governments or their rich families. The university needs the cash for tuition even if the foreign students’ English is not up to speed. That’s where I come in.
“What I’d like,” Wilkins said, leaning forward and lowering his voice, “is a copy of your class lists.”
Review of Harley L. Sachs novel: Burnt Out.
By Doc Macomber, author of the Jack Vu Mystery Series.
At the opening of Burnt Out, the third in this popular mystery series by Harley L. Sachs, Irwin Glass is looking forward to the birth of the couple’s first child. Recently married and settling nicely into home life with his PhD professor in Copper Country, the last thing this former Foreign Service agent wants is for this quiet life as a teacher of English as a Second Language at Michigan Tech to come to an abrupt end. Glass wants no part of his past, no more days being accused a Soviet agent; or running from the KGB; or skirting the lurking CIA agents out to betray him. But a storm is brewing.
FBI Agent Wilkins from both Mr. Sachs’ previous books has returned. He wants Glass to provide him with a class list of his foreign students, a number of whom are Muslims. In order that the government may keep tabs and ferret out any potential terrorists who might pose a threat to National Security, Glass is faced with a moral conundrum. If he refuses the agent’s request, he possibly puts the university in harm’s way and potentially his own wife and daughter, if he goes along with it; he is violating the student’s rights and university policy. Glass figures he’s got no choice.
That sets into motion Agent Wilkins next request. Now he wants Glass to spy on the Muslem Student’s Association for which Glass is appointed faculty advisor. Find out what they are up to, essentially prying into the lives of the members. Something the agent thinks Glass knows something about. Yet, when Glass tries to put his foot down and refuse, the ice begins to crack and the water is very cold. Nothing is sacred when the government’s so-called interests are at stake.
Meanwhile, Katarina Putinsky, or Putin as she likes to call herself – Glass’s daughter – a sexy raconteur herself, and who captured the reader’s attention in Sachs’ previous novel, reappears in Glass’s life. Glass convinces her to move back in with them and return to college. Within hours things begin to get messy – especially when his daughter begins dating a suspicious Muslim. Tensions between Glass, his students, and his daughter, swell.
Mr. Sachs is at the top of his writing game with this book. He knows his history and sprinkles it throughout nicely. The writing is tight, the style consistently smooth. He steals us away on a well-plotted journey where religious and personal freedoms are at the heart of the matter. Always boiling under the surface is this tension, this implied racial hatred, involving Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and the American way of life that has been going on for centuries and is the root behind many societal problems and yet Mr. Sachs delivers it in a new and refreshing way that keeps the reader turning the page.
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