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 The Books of Barbara and Hy Brett


Secret Agenda > Review

Given a title like Secret Agenda: Who's Castrating the Wolves of Wall Street?, a reader might envision a nonfiction indictment of Wall Street shenanigans; but in actuality this is fiction; and a solid political mystery, at that.

Billionaires set for a takeover of the presidency of the United States have been so successful at their financial heists that they think nothing can stop them. But somebody is stopping them in a big way, and as the story evolves, a host of secret agendas and wronged women emerge.

Secret Agenda could easily have focused on the mystery portion alone, but Barbara Brett includes a healthy dose of psychology surrounding predators in high places, and conversations and insights highlight the plight of women who are often at the mercy of these wealthy thugs, early on: "I doubt it. You have more to fear if word got out about our little rendezvous. I can either deny it and say you’re lying in order to get publicity to save your career from going in the toilet. Or, a simple businessman who is unacquainted with women and their wiles, I can tell the world that you seduced me—and turned out to be a lousy lay. Either way, you lose big."

Between its exposé of elite male privilege and its abuse to the ex-detective who owns a bookstore and a cat but can't quite shake the lure of investigations when a case lands right on his doorstep, Brett crafts a compelling narrative that moves between political and monied forces and cat-and-mouse moves.

As these special forces collide on various levels, readers will find this mystery gripping and hard to put down, flavored with a sense of urgency as a host of characters discover they've been emasculated by a savvy attacker bent on serving up revenge in the most intimate of ways.

Brett is a master at developing characters, tension, and personal and political scenarios designed to grip readers with a relentless attention to twists and turns and realistic scenarios. As detective Tom finds himself involved with a woman he shouldn't be considering in the midst of a case which draws upon an expertise he'd thought he left behind, readers will relish a story that rests firmly on personal attractions and psychological insights.

Fast-paced and beautifully written, Secret Agenda is a highly recommended pick for readers who like their political thrillers steamy, passionate, and thoroughly involving.

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer
June 2018, Vol. 17, No. 6


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