In 1937 Milwaukee, young FBI agent Jimmy Nessheim comes across several odd bits of information (and a murder) leading to the German American Bund, a powerful association with pro-Nazi leanings. To his surprise, no one in the bureau wants to pursue the matter. It is only a few years later, when the US find themselves hovering on the brink of a war that looks both alarming, and awfully far away, that Jimmy is whisked to Washington and sent undercover to infiltrate the Bund. Is there really a conspiracy afoot? And to what end? And just what has German intelligence to do with it?
Fear Itself has very much the feel of a film noir, with plenty of post-Depression grit, intrigue, FBI politics, scheming socialites, eleventh-hour escapes, red herrings, dubious characters, and a general sense that nobody can be trusted. And if Nessheim is clueless at crucial times, if coincidences tend to happen, if a few threads are left hanging – still the vividly detailed setting, a tight pace, and well-researched glimpses of Hoover and William Stephenson provide an atmospheric and entertaining read.