The Accidental Agent: A Jimmy Nessheim Novel

Written by Andrew Rosenheim
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

In 1942 the USA is in a race against Nazi Germany to harness the colossal death-dealing potential of the atom bomb. And it seems that the USA’s new ally, Soviet Russia, is also showing an interest. Enter ex-FBI special agent James Nessheim, rejected for military service on health grounds, who is studying for a law degree at the University of Chicago, where the atom bomb programme is taking place. His former FBI boss persuades him to go under cover one last time to expose a suspected spy who may have infiltrated the programme. At the same time, Nessheim meets an old flame who, it turns out, is enrolled on his law course. Can this be a coincidence?

This all makes for a rollercoaster of a story, combining a fast-paced, violent yet thoughtful plot with three-dimensional characters, a convincing noir-style evocation of 1940s America and a satisfying dénouement. If John le Carré and Raymond Chandler are your cup of tea, you’ll probably find this a terrific read.