CAREER: Writer, FBI agent, and law enforcement officer. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, federal agent and specialist in undercover work, foreign counterintelligence, and counterespionage; services as on-air terrorism analyst for CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox television.
Quantico Rules (fiction), St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2003.
Sleeper (fiction), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Black Ops: FBI, a television series in development; Dead Evil, a third FBI-based thriller novel.
SIDELIGHTS: A former FBI agent, terrorism expert, undercover operative, and counterespionage specialist, Gene Riehl uses his varied law enforcement background to infuse his work with verisimilitude born of experience. As a veteran of more than twenty years with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, he worked on a variety of federal crimes, "including kidnapping, extortion, bank robbery, major art and jewelry thefts, and organized author's home page. His specialty was undercover operations and foreign counterintelligence, and for four years he worked for an operations group that performed special surveillance, short-term undercover assignments, and wiretap investigations. He has also served as an on-air commentator and counterterrorism analyst for television broadcast networks.
In his debut novel, Quantico Rules, Riehl introduces FBI agent Puller Monk, a compulsive gambler with an alcoholic veterinarian girlfriend, an ailing, formerly abusive father suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and a trunkful of childhood traumas only partially stifled by the constant gambling and subsequent perpetual debt. As a member of an FBI Special Inquiries, or SPIN squad, Monk is in charge of an investigation into U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brenda Thompson, the first African-American woman nominated to such a position. Ostensibly a thoroughly professional jurist with a clean record, Thomson seems certain to gain the coveted seat on the bench. However, during the investigation, Special Agent Lisa Sands discovers a troubling discrepancy on Thompson's personal security questionnaire. As the discrepancy snowballs into an outright lie, more lies, complex power relationships, and disturbing secrets are uncovered. Monk and Sands increase the intensity of their investigation, but obstacles block their progress, including a complete suspension from the investigation. Soon a highly skilled hit man is shadowing their every move, threatening to end their lives at the slightest opportunity. The nightmarish scenario becomes one of kill-or-be-killed, as Monk and Sands ponder a relationship and seek to expose the highly placed sources that set a killer on their trail who wants to keep Judge Thompson's secrets unexposed.
"Reading this debut novel is like finding a gold nugget when all you were expecting was a few pretty stones," remarked David Pitt in Booklist. Riehl "writes like a pro, and this is one of those thrillers you genuinely wish wouldn't end," Pitt added. "Riehl writes a lean, vigorous prose laced with self-deprecating humor, and as an ex-FBI man he fuels his story with fascinating insider details," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "Monk is a great protagonist with flaws and troubles that overwhelm him at times," commented Harriet Klausner in a review for AllReaders.com.
Sleeper, Riehl's second "Puller Monk" thriller, pits the troubled agent against a deadly female assassin, born Samantha Williamson but now known as Sung Kim. Kidnapped at a young age and vigorously trained in martial arts and assassination techniques, Sung Kim vexes the FBI agents who seek her out; they do not even know what she looks like, though her signature style of art theft leaves little doubt when she is at large. While Sung Kim is dispatched to the United States to commit murder in the highest level of power, Monk becomes the only agent capable of stopping her. Meanwhile, still under the grip of a gambling addiction, Monk must deal with the death of his father and the realization that he is genetically predisposed to the Alzheimer's disease that killed his sire. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that the novel "lacks the substance to support the story's more serious concerns," but commented favorably on the "terrific surprise twist." The book is an "intriguing sequel in which the fascinating character is the villainess," observed Harriet Klausner in MBR Bookwatch. Pitt, in another Booklist review, called Puller Monk "a fresh, exciting, and dramatic creation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2003, David Pitt, review of Quantico Rules, p. 1554; January 1, 2005, David Pitt, review of Sleeper, p. 828.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of Quantico Rules, p. 778; January 1, 2005, review of Sleeper, p. 17.
MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Sleeper.
Orlando Sentinel, September 16, 2003, Ann Hellmuth, review of Quantico Rules.
Publishers Weekly, June 9, 2003, review of Quantico Rules, p. 34; February 7, 2005, review of Sleeper, p. 42.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (July 9, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Quantico Rules; Harriet Klausner, review of Sleeper.
BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (July 9, 2005), Hilary Williamson, review of Quantico Rules.