I was surprised at how I got caught up in this spy thriller about a young man in the FBI during Hoover's time overseeing the department. The man was raised in a small town where his locksmith father taught him everything he knows about safe cracking. It is fun to step back in time in this historical fiction that has a non-typical romantic thread.
The time is 1949. When American officials learn that the Russians have detonated an atomic weapon, they realize that the most tightly held secret in their nation's history has been penetrated. How? By whom? Is the traitor still in place? Is the future of atomic research jeopardized? The FBI, in its most urgent mission ever, is charged with finding out.
Christopher Malone, a young agent with a knack for opening locks and a surprising gift for posing as a man he can never be, is called to glamorous postwar Washington from mundane duties in Kansas City. His job: to assume a new identity for the sake of gaining entree to the Russian embassy, where the key to the secret is hidden. Malone is better at what he does than even he knows and he pushes further into the Firebird mystery than anyone--including his own superiors--expects or wants. Malone is idealistic, patriotic, in awe of Hoover and in love with the Bureau. But as he becomes more and more entwined in the machinations of spy and counterspy and in a love affair with a Russian woman who may be his ultimate betrayer, he realizes that the articles of faith that have shaped his life are far too simple, that the world is a place of duplicity and mirage.