From 1976 to 1997 Robert Baer served as a case officer in the Directorate of Operations for the CIA. His first venture as an author was Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude. Baer has now crossed over into the world of fiction with his second book, Blow The House Down. Although, this one is a work of fiction, Baer indicates in the concluding chapter he hopes that the narrative stands on a firm foundation of reality.
The crux of Baer's narrative focuses on a fictitious character, Max Waller, a CIA officer, who is obsessed with finding out who killed Bill Buckley. If you remember, Bill Buckley was the CIA Chief of Station in Beirut. In 1984 Buckley was kidnapped and subsequently murdered. There were no witnesses and Waller comes up will all kinds of scenarios as to who had been involved in his kidnapping, such as a Sepah-i Pasdaran colonel who went by the name of Murtaza Ali Mousavi. As Baer reminds us, "Sepah-i Pasdaran is shorthand for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the spearhead of the Islamic revolution that Ayatollah Khomeini wanted to spread across the Middle East."
Unfortunately, as Waller informs us, he wasn't able to do much about finding Buckley's kidnapper, when he was recalled in 2000' from the field and brought back to Langley. Back in the USA Waller goes through the databases and eventually discovers a reference to a photo of Ali Mousavi that was taken in Peshawar, Pakistan, archived to an inactive informant's file. He requisitions the file however it seems to have been mysteriously misplaced or lost. Nonetheless, he does come up with a photo of five people that includes Osama bin Laden. However, what really catches Waller's eye is a slight man whose features were too defined to be an Arab, whom he thinks is Murtaza Ali Mousavi, and whom he can't understand as to why he is with Osama bin Laden. Another anomaly of the photograph was that one of the faces of the five had been cut out. Who is this individual? Is he an American?
After showing the picture to one of his colleagues, John Millis (who was in fact an actual CIA agent) the man mysteriously dies.
From here Baer gives us a blow-by-blow account of Waller's journey to a Palestinian refugee camp, an Israeli prison, a luxury hotel in Lebanon and banks in Zurich, as he meets up with a Saudi prince and an ex-CIA colleague who seems to have come into a great deal of money. It should be mentioned that throughout his escapades, Waller is sure he is being followed, however, he can't quite put the finger on whom and why he is being watched.
As he begins to put the pieces together Waller suspects that all is not exactly "kosher," and he surmises that there are some Americans who may be profiting from the terrorist acts that have been transpiring over the years. One such individual is David Channing, who has contributed a great deal of money to the campaigns of many Washington politicians and who has a great deal of influential clout.
Tantalizing as the story is, the complex plot is occasionally marred with the introduction of so many characters that I found it difficult to follow. However, in the end Baer must be commended for his pushing of fiction to the limit and having his readers believe that perhaps there is more than a little truth in this narrative.
Reviewer:Norm Goldman, Editor Bookpleasures.com