A Review of
By John Pansini
This is the true story of John Pansini a well qualified and professional librarian with a Masters Degree in Library Science, who happens to be working as a roof repairman nailing on shingles all day in New York. The language comes across very readily as that of a native New Yorker and adds to the story and enhances his description of this work. At times it is funny as the toils of a manual worker in the extremes of a New York summer and winter takes its toll. John also runs his own company Computerized Information Retrieval which does exactly what the name suggests. After placing an advert in the New York Times John is approached by a Russian, Mikhail Katkov, to get some information for him and there the whole story starts.
A patriot I think, John approaches the FBI, this is the 1980s after all, the time of the cold war, and tells them about his Russian ´friend´. They apparently, reluctantly take an interest and the book covers the next four years of intrigue and mystery as the relationship between John, Mikhail and various Special Agents from the FBI develops.
John has more than one motive for accepting the work from Mikhail, money, he´s a patriot, he really really enjoys the thought of being a spy and finally from the start he realises that there is a book and screenplay to be written from his experiences, hence this book, Roofman.
The way things develop in the book have the air of authenticity about them. The relationship between the New Yorker and the Russian grows over time, at least that is what John believes. I gained the impression the author was being played from both sides, the Russian GRU officer and by the FBI, but he feels that he was in control. Near the end when John sees that his spying career is nearly over he makes a desperate attempt to prolong things by approaching the Customs Authorities, you just knew that wasn´t going to work.
This was an enjoyable book to read and even though John Pansini claims it is a true story I am left with the tiny thought that he´s just playing me and the rest of his readers. It doesn´t matter if he is though, you´ll still relish reading the book with the air of reality running through it. Well done John a great read.
The real world of espionage and counterespionage was not what I expected. An ordinary guy like me, a roofer with a Master's degree in Library Science and with no prior training in intelligence work, nothing in my imagination prepared me for what I faced during the sensitive time when the United States and the Soviet Union were at each others throats.
This true story includes 63 minutes of taped conversations between me and my spy handlers. A reader will see and be part of the real world of spying: of talking to the Feds, the Russians, and always watching one's back.
My rating 4 out of 5.