The Infiltrator by TR Hendricks

3 Mins read
The Infiltrator by TR Hendricks front cover

When the tropes of crime fiction become too much – the secrets, the deceit, the evasions, the jealousies – that’s when a no-holds-barred thriller like The Infiltrator by TR Hendricks makes a welcome cleanse. Its adventure-first approach scours your veins as you follow retired US Marine and wilderness survival expert Derek Harrington in his continuing effort to extirpate a dangerous group of domestic terrorists.

The Infiltrator is the second book in a series that began in 2023 with The Instructor and should have at least one sequel in order to tie up loose ends. I haven’t read the first book, but that was no handicap to enjoying this one. The only missing piece was why the terrorists were doing what they were doing, but if you accept the premise that they are on some kind of wild mission, the why is a little less relevant.

How Derek stays perfectly hidden in the woods while on a weeks’-long surveillance assignment is quite interesting, though in the early pages, you may feel you’re reading a catalog of survivalist gear. The communications lingo will be immediately clear to those with military experience, but even as a civilian I found it rather easy to follow.

Derek is hiding in the hills of rural West Virginia, watching members of a terrorist group called Autumn’s Tithe prepare for a major attack. Although no longer in the military, he has some official standing, being deputised to the FBI, and can call in massive military and law enforcement resources when he needs to. He experiences a bit of a conflict right up front, because the terrorists live as a large family. He sees the wives and children who may become casualties. And some of those kids are the same age as his son.

You don’t have to wait for the end of Chapter One for the terrorists to make their move. A three-vehicle convoy, including a fertiliser-bomb-laden box truck and a van of heavily armed terrorists, leaves the camp, intent on committing mass murder. Derek calls it in. A Hellfire missile operated by a soldier way across the country in Arizona destroys the convoy, followed by two attack helicopters whose weapons subdue the personnel remaining on the camp, followed by members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team who take prisoners.

In case this sounds like a long exercise in commando porn, rest assured that before long, you learn the situation has a number of nuances. Almost inevitably, they’re political. Relatively modest objections to conducting such a violent attack on US citizens in their home country are raised.

Part of what this was supposed to be a clean-up operation of Autumn Tithe remnants includes capturing a former FBI agent called Sarah who’s been leading the group. Her role makes this pursuit personal for Derek’s colleagues. But it’s also clear that somewhere in government, a mole is feeding Sarah vital information about the FBI’s plans.

The team’s new special agent in charge, Samuel Liu, is as by-the-book as they come. Of course, Derek’s methods don’t appear in any book, so conflict between them is inevitable. Liu is mainly concerned with amassing glory that will lead to promotion, while Derek, in true lone-wolf fashion, sets his own priorities.

While Derek watches events in West Virginia unfold, someone is watching him. Someone whose skills of concealment at least equal Derek’s, even if his unhinged motivations are quite different. All these forces come together in the planning for a new raid on a heretofore unknown Autumn Tithe compound in Kentucky. Trying to find this camp, figuring out how to destroy it and preparing to live with the consequences take up a large part of the story.

On the home front, Derek spends as much time as he can with his wife, son and dying father. They are sequestered in a nondescript Indiana suburb, with two older FBI agents – a married couple – living across the street and serving as household help. Just in case. Everyone is aware that Sarah is out for revenge and may believe destroying Derek’s family is the best way to get it.

While the adventure keeps the pages turning, author Hendricks clearly enjoys writing the fight scenes and, at times, drags them out past the point of plausibility. He is a former US Army captain who served as a tank platoon leader and military intelligence officer in Iraq and an advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior’s intelligence arm.

For more high-octane adventure, try Appointment in Tehran by James Stejskal or Jack Beaumont’s Dark Arena.


CFL Rating: 3 Stars

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