cover image The Coldest Warrior

The Coldest Warrior

Paul Vidich. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64313-335-5

Based on the real-life case of biological warfare scientist Frank Olson, Vidich’s lean, crisp third CIA novel (after 2017’s The Good Assassin) recreates, then reimagines, the circumstances of Olson’s still-unexplained death. In 1975, 22 years after scientific researcher Charles Wilson plunged to his death from the ninth floor of a Washington, D.C., hotel, agency inspector Jack Gabriel is assigned to re-open the case to determine whether it was a suicide, an accident, or something more sinister. Gabriel runs into resistance from the start. He knows that Wilson was secretly drugged by the CIA as part of the agency’s LSD experiments of the time, but had always figured Wilson leapt to his death or accidentally fell. Agents who were involved in the original case, most of whom have risen to positions of power at the CIA, not only won’t talk but actively warn him off the case. After a few of them die under suspicious circumstances, Gabriel starts to wonder: did the agency kill one of its own? Vidich, a former media industry executive with no spycraft background, writes with the nuanced detail and authority of a career spook. With this outing, Vidich enters the upper ranks of espionage thriller writers. Agent: Will Roberts, Gernert Company. (Feb.)