Review by Dr. Herbert L. Calhoun
This is a poignant story about 24 interviews Joe Navarro designed that saved the Western world. Joe is that rare bird who, through a combination of narcissism and overconfidence had learned to take himself, his craft and his duties as a "newly minted" American citizen, seriously.
He was not the first, nor will he be the last government employee to wake up at his desk one morning and realize that he is the last man left in the universe with the guts and the particular skill set to save the nation he loves from itself and literally nuclear Armageddon -- by simply doing his job properly.
This opportunity came for him the day he had to design a set of interviews to interrogate a brilliant little psychopathic weasel named Rod Ramsey. The interviews had to be shrewd enough to walk a fine line between gaining enough trust from Ramsey to appear to be protecting his rights, while not spooking him enough to go out and hire a lawyer, and at the same time, draining him of all the secrets he had sold to the enemy. It turns out that what he had sold them, was everything, period.
Playing the role of brilliant psychopathic demon in reverse, Navarro pulled it off, but not with a second to spare: Mano y Mano, he worked his prey and himself like an FBI Houdini-machine. Ramsey, who from his station in Germany as a custodian of some of the nation's most sensitive secrets, was given just enough rope to hang himself, as he sang like a mocking bird without even knowing that he was a part of the choir. He hung himself good!
No one could have anticipated that Navarro's greatest foe would not be the great white psychopathic dope-smoking VD-carrying whale in the water, but the nervous internal CYA FBI bureaucracy standing on the sidelines watching as Ramsey was being reeled-in. As is always the case, it was they, and not Ramsey -- who fought to protect their silly turf and pensions and battles over who ultimately would get the credit for his capture -- over seeing the nation succumb to a termite eating away at its vital organs?
Navarro, taking his paltry $500 award ($327 after taxes) barely survived the ordeal himself. Yet, he can now join the rest of us retired government employees who have great hero stories to tell our kids. Five stars
Editor's note: This review was written by Dr. Herbert L. Calhoun and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.