The four books of 'The D.C. Man' series were released in 1974 and 1975, a few years after the author Peter Rohrbach (writing as James Cody) departed his previous life as a Roman Catholic priest and pursued writing as a career. The series wasn’t a great commercial success, and he never returned to the Men’s Adventure genre - a particular shame because the series introduction, “Top Secret Kill”, was a real gem of a debut.
Narrator Brian Peterson is a D.C. lobbyist recovering from the emotional toll of his family’s death in a car accident. As a result of his personal tragedy, his lobbying business went into the toilet, and he now earns money as a fix-it man for Congressmen to bury or repair their personal calamities. The premise is very similar to the modern hit ABC TV show, “Scandal”.
In this novel, Peterson is engaged by a congressional subcommittee to quietly determine who might be leaking documents to hostile European interests. It’s an important gig for Peterson because it will render his business solvent again following the long-term lack of revenue during his mourning period. To solve the mystery, Peterson employs a vast network of contacts, journalists, and informants to help him uncover the leaker.
The action is generally localized to the Washington, D.C. area with an investigative jaunt to Delaware to run down a promising lead. For most of the book, it reads like a well-written private-eye novel as Peterson conducts a logical investigation. Along the way, he meets a sexy German babe, and nature follows its course - but is there more to her than meets the eye?
The handful of action sequences are violent and well-written. The author isn’t afraid to let the lead fly and spill a lot of blood when appropriate. But it’s the brutal, climactic action sequence at the end that will stay with the reader long after this 190 page novel is completed. It’s almost as if Rohrbach/Cody wanted to prove to himself that he could write action sequences of extreme violence despite his recent day job as a man of peace.
Top Secret Kill was an excellent story of political intrigue with crisp writing and a fat-free plot. It serves as a great introduction to a complex and nuanced action hero who deserved a lot more adventures than the four that were published. A strong recommendation for this debut novel is a no-brainer.