Book Reviews of A Firing Offense

A Firing Offense
A Firing Offense
Author: David Ignatius
ISBN-13: 9780679448600
ISBN-10: 0679448608
Publication Date: 4/29/1997
Pages: 333
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 7 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
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2 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 1
From the Publisher
At The New York Mirror, Eric Truell is a rising star, a reporter savvy enough to work the political angles of Washington and brave enough to break into a room full of terrorists. While investigating a story about secret power networks in France, Truell meets a maverick CIA agent who is only too happy to leak highly sensitive and explosive stories. But as Eric's ties to the CIA deepen, he learns about a private trade war involving France, China, and the United States, a war in which his newspaper may be an unwitting player. When Eric's sources tell him there is a spy within his own paper, he is tempted to cross a dangerous professional line and risk his career - possibly even his life - to find the truth.

From The Critics
Publishers Weekly
Just how far will a journalist go to get a story? What happens when he crosses the line from observer to newsmaker? Those questions are at the heart of this smart thriller, in which reporter and narrator Eric Truell's every action forces him into a moral dilemma involving the conflict between the private and the public good. Beginning with the funeral of respected New York Mirror reporter Arthur Bowman, Truell tells the story behind Bowman's death, which is also the story of how Truell started painting himself into an ethical corner. A hostage situation in a French restaurant leads Truell to contact a CIA source, who hooks him up with disaffected agent Rupert Cohen. Wanting to parlay his government experience into a reporter's job, Cohen feeds Truell secrets, and the moral stakes keep rising. Truell finds himself in the thick of the downfall of a French government, a senator's forced withdrawal from the U.S. presidential race, and a laboratory in Beijing where a deadly new biological weapon is being developed. Truell's actions become more and more catalytic, and less and less objective. Using a cleverly detailed plot, Ignatius (Agents of Innocence) makes it very clear that journalists are in truth newsmakers, whether they know it or not, and that their high-minded claims of objectivity blind them to their complicity in the events they report. Thanks to great writing and an all-too-human protagonist, the preaching is kept to a minimum, but the sermon about good journalism and bad, truth and lies is there in bold letters. You can easily understand why Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruise scooped up this thriller for more than a million dollars. Just say a prayer that they don't pave over the moral quagmire with easy answers. Major ad/promo; simulataneous Random House audio; author tour. (May)

Library Journal
In this crisply written, fast-paced espionage thriller, an up-and-coming journalist finds he has made a Faustian bargain when he takes information from the CIA. New York Mirror foreign correspondent Eric Truell's expos of French governmental corruption leads him to probe the dynamics of power behind a pending French-Chinese communications contracta deal that could mean the loss of billions for American businesses. Truell's CIA sources use their information to lure the ambitious but nave reporter into playing their own dangerous game in the murky new world order, where real power resides not with governments but with private enterprise. Ignatius (The Bank of Fear, LJ 6/1/94) brings to this novel his own experience as a reporter and editor. The writing is clean and straightforward, and the situations both in the newsroom and on assignment ring true. Altogether, an exciting book; for general collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/97.]Linda Lee Landrigan, New York

Kirkus Reviews
In a break from the Middle East focus of his first three thrillers (The Bank of Fear, 1995, etc.), Ignatius forces the hero of this tense new novel to walk a tightrope between digging up foreign-intrigue stories for his paper and doing increasingly dangerous chores for the CIA.
It all begins innocently enough, when Rupert Cohen, an Agency loose cannon who wants to trade his cloak and dagger for a reporter's notebook, tells the New York Mirror's Paris bureau chief, Eric Truell, that there's no reason why the paper shouldn't hire an ex-spyafter all, they've already got one working on their foreign desk: legendary chief diplomatic correspondent Arthur Bowman, a man who's been taking payoffs from the French government for years. Truell, still aglow with success after breaking a Cohen-enriched story that brought down the French defense minister, goes to his editor, Ed Weiss, with Cohen's bombshell, but Weiss refuses to believe such a story about Bowman, and Truell isn't gutsy enough to press it. Instead he takes it to somebody who'll take him seriously: Tom Rubino, head of the CIA's European division. Meantime, Cohen, still looking for his big break, continues to feed Truell inside stuff, focusing on biological warfare weapons in China, and Bowman and Truell head uneasily for Beijing. By now Bowman knows that Truell suspects his French connection, but he doesn't know that Rubino has asked Truell to pass a Chinese contact a message that'll help him escapeand, in the process, endanger both the reporters' lives. Ignatius doesn't stint on tradecraft details, but puts his own perverse spin on them (Truell's crash course on CIA procedure is hilarious), and keeps the focus right where it belongs: on Truell's frantic dance to bridge the gap between his Agency errands and his eroding journalistic ethics.

Brilliantly twisty while you're reading it, though you may find yourself scratching your head when it's over.
reviewed A Firing Offense on
Well done with good character insight. Twist on a novel of espionage by showing the fine line the journalist must/should walk in developing sources. Highly recommend.