An FBI Special Agent Ana Grey Mystery
By April Smith
Knopf, Hardcover, 9781400042050, 336pp.
Publication Date: February 12, 2008
Maverick FBI Agent Ana Grey is back in a suspense-charged new novel, going undercover into the volatile core of a terrorist cell.
Emotionally vulnerable after a shooting incident, Ana has just returned to the job when she learns that a fellow agent has been murdered by a group of hard-core anarchists operating behind the façade of FAN (Free Animals Now). Dispatched to the FBI’s infamous undercover school to learn the art of deceit, Ana takes on the identity of a down-on-her-luck animal lover determined to save the wild mustangs of the West. Now she’s ready to work her way into the inner circle of Julius Emerson Phelps, the unstable, charismatic leader of a “family” of outcasts who live on an isolated farm in Oregon, and who are preparing an act of terrorism Phelps has dubbed “the Big One.”
The stakes increase significantly when Ana learns that Phelps is playing his own game of dangerous deception, and that he possesses a stockpile of dirty secrets about the Bureau sufficient to blow it sky-high.
With razor-sharp realism, Smith renders the psychological vise of a deep-cover agent living a lie 24/7. Negotiating a minefield of loyalty and betrayal, under constant threat of discovery, Ana is forced to commit the very crime she’s determined to stop.
Judas Horse is a breathlessly exciting thriller.
“A genuinely scarifying thriller with a consistently vertiginous, through the looking glass mood. Every character is a hologram of sorts and every episode has the momentum of a theme-park ride. One of Smith’s cleverest tricks here is her unsettling depiction of unlikely alliances: Ana turns out to have more in common with the villain, Stone, than she might ever have imagined.”
–Los Angeles Times
“A feverishly pitched adventure . . . With every dynamic scene, including a wild mustang roundup that thunders right off the page, the reader, like Ana, is reminded of the lost ideals and divided loyalties that make these mortal conflicts so bloody–and so sad.”
–Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
“Why does the FBI still seem so sexy? Part of the reason is murder mysteries like April Smith’s Judas Horse . . . It’s creepy, chest-thumping stuff, with snitches and loyalty tests and the good guys and villains constantly in flux.”
–Los Angeles Magazine
“A runaway but cagey novel that never lets up . . . The incidents with which Ana must deal [at FBI undercover school] are so fast, harrowing, and breathtaking that they are like skiing down the expert slope while juggling vials of nitroglycerine.”
–Otto Penzler, New York Sun
“Smith’s superb third thriller to feature Ana Grey . . . Ana’s nuanced and coolly observational narrative voice perfectly complements the well-paced action, which builds to a satisfying conclusion that leaves open the next chapter of Ana’s story.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Smith does a convincing job of conveying the trials of maintaining a dual identity . . . The narrative is fast-paced without becoming frantic, and the intertwining story lines are deftly handled. Highly recommended.”
–Library Journal (starred)
“A demonic ride through undercover terrain . . . Smith creates an undercover training regime for Ana that the FBI might do well to emulate. She’s so expert at implanting stress that you could become bipolar just from reading one chapter. Feisty, disturbing and exceptionally well done.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred)