Following the monster success of “First Blood,” author David Morrell probably could have spent the remainder of his adult life lounging around his mansion lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills. Instead, he continued writing intelligent thrillers and making a name for himself as a master of the suspense genre.
I recently read a 35-page short story by Morrell called “The Interrogator” that was first published in 2012 and later compiled by Ed Gorman in an anthology called “The Interrogator and Other Criminally Good Fiction.” The collection also has stories by Micky Spillane, Max Allan Collins, Lee Child, Bill Pronzini, and others. Alternatively, Amazon sells the Morrell story alone for a buck on your Kindle. Either way, you really can’t go wrong.
“The Interrogator” is the story of a CIA operative named Andrew whose grew up learning tradecraft and spy lessons from his father, who was also with the Agency. When we meet Andrew in real time, he’s preparing to walk into a time-sensitive interrogation of a terrorist with knowledge of an imminent smallpox attack on a major city’s subway system. Andrew needs to elicit the details before innocent commuters die.
The interrogation methods employed by Andrew are both fascinating, realistic, and ethically complex. The story delves into the psychological manipulation and stress techniques that professional CIA interrogators reportedly employ and the folly of using torture to elicit important truths from trained adversaries. Morrell is a great writer and the tension he creates in the confined space of the story will stay with you long after the final page.
Seriously, don’t skip this one. Highest recommendation.