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The Flat Bureaucrat

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For Shelby Wexler, being crushed by falling concrete is only the beginning of a bad afterlife. As a senior official of the CIA, he considered Congressional oversight committees the highest form of retribution. He never entertained the possibility of post-mortem accountability. Enter Virgil, an obnoxious and expired polygraph examiner, who sends Shelby on a backward journey For Shelby Wexler, being crushed by falling concrete is only the beginning of a bad afterlife. As a senior official of the CIA, he considered Congressional oversight committees the highest form of retribution. He never entertained the possibility of post-mortem accountability. Enter Virgil, an obnoxious and expired polygraph examiner, who sends Shelby on a backward journey through the events leading up to the terrorist attack that killed him. Who was responsible? Who dropped the ball? The answers are not the sort likely to surface in a Senate hearing room. The Flat Bureaucrat is the stand-alone sequel to Susan Hasler’s hilarious and terrifying debut novel, Intelligence. Informed by Hasler’s two decades in the Agency, these books will make you laugh and make you think about the CIA and national security in a new way.


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For Shelby Wexler, being crushed by falling concrete is only the beginning of a bad afterlife. As a senior official of the CIA, he considered Congressional oversight committees the highest form of retribution. He never entertained the possibility of post-mortem accountability. Enter Virgil, an obnoxious and expired polygraph examiner, who sends Shelby on a backward journey For Shelby Wexler, being crushed by falling concrete is only the beginning of a bad afterlife. As a senior official of the CIA, he considered Congressional oversight committees the highest form of retribution. He never entertained the possibility of post-mortem accountability. Enter Virgil, an obnoxious and expired polygraph examiner, who sends Shelby on a backward journey through the events leading up to the terrorist attack that killed him. Who was responsible? Who dropped the ball? The answers are not the sort likely to surface in a Senate hearing room. The Flat Bureaucrat is the stand-alone sequel to Susan Hasler’s hilarious and terrifying debut novel, Intelligence. Informed by Hasler’s two decades in the Agency, these books will make you laugh and make you think about the CIA and national security in a new way.

38 review for The Flat Bureaucrat

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Although written in a light-hearted manner and billing itself as a satire, this book is a stinging indictment of the CIA, its siloing and internecine battles, and the overall political environment in which it operates. It simultaneously demonstrates both why moral relativism may be necessary for the success of the Agency and how it can lead to some of the Agency's greatest failures. It would be easy to dismiss these criticisms as the paranoid judgments of an outsider with no understanding of the Although written in a light-hearted manner and billing itself as a satire, this book is a stinging indictment of the CIA, its siloing and internecine battles, and the overall political environment in which it operates. It simultaneously demonstrates both why moral relativism may be necessary for the success of the Agency and how it can lead to some of the Agency's greatest failures. It would be easy to dismiss these criticisms as the paranoid judgments of an outsider with no understanding of the Agency but for the fact that this book was written by a 21 year veteran of the Agency -- a speechwriter to 3 Directors of the CIA and a member of the counterterrorism unit before, during and after 911. In other words, this author knows her subject matter. The main storyline is reminiscent of the chorus from Jimmy Buffet's classic song, "Margaritaville." As for the technique employed to tell the story, it is best characterized as quirky and unusual. Part "A Christmas Carol," part "The Lovely Bones" and part "This is Your Life," I found its post-mortem polygraph inspection and reconstruction of the main character's (it is hard to refer to him as a protagonist) life and the events leading to his death a bit too cute at first but eventually came to enjoy it and ultimately felt that it worked. In addition to her indictments of the Agency, I also enjoyed how the author had one character reflecting on just how stupid smart people can be, something we see repeated daily in government, business and the entertainment world, as people who should know better and who have so much to lose do things that are inexplicably stupid and self-destructive. There are many other equally keen observations in this book. All in all, I found the book a quick fun read (1 day at the beach) and thought-provoking at the same time, a combination I don't often encounter.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    An amusing story, it did make me wonder about our government and the infighting. Poor Shelby gets flattened by a terrorist attack right under his nose and then has to relive it in the afterlife. A cockatoo, a slimy Senator can add up to what? Only Virgil, the dead polygraph tech can help Shelby figure out who flattened him, and realize that he was a "dead" bureaucrat emotionally for years. This was a Goodreads giveaway book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    J. Ewbank

    This book by Hasler is a very creative way of handling her story. It is about the CIA and is a satire on the organization. Enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the next one. J. Robert Ewbank author John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms, Wesley's Wars, To Whom It May Concern and Tell Me About the United Methodist Church

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received this book through GoodReads Giveaways. Shelby, the main character, is a higher level bureacrat at the CIA (fictionalized version of it, I believe), who revisits a large scale terrorist attack on the facility AFTER his death during the attack - he is tethered to a polygraph and forced to re-live the events leading up to his death, and shortly thereafter, by a vile (and, also deceased) polygraph tech named Virgil. At times, I found myself trying to recognize the actual people the charac I received this book through GoodReads Giveaways. Shelby, the main character, is a higher level bureacrat at the CIA (fictionalized version of it, I believe), who revisits a large scale terrorist attack on the facility AFTER his death during the attack - he is tethered to a polygraph and forced to re-live the events leading up to his death, and shortly thereafter, by a vile (and, also deceased) polygraph tech named Virgil. At times, I found myself trying to recognize the actual people the characters are based on, although, I HOPE there is no one in the current Senate who is as bat-sh*t crazy as the Senator depicted in this little book...I also found myself occasionally hoping that it was just a bad dream for him, and that he would reconcile with his wife, accept and love his son, Edward, despite the mental illness that drove the wedge between them, and that he would become a better person. Alas, it wasn't a "Dallas-type" dream, and Shelby went toward the light without resolving those issues, along with Dirkson, the cockatoo...while this wasn't my favorite read, it was somewhat amusing. Not sure if I will read Ms. Hasler's first book or not, since the cover blurb on this book describes it as "hilarious and terrifying" - it also said that The Flat Bureaucrat would make me laugh and think and perhaps, keep me up at night, and it didn't do ANY of those things...Bottom line - Meh...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I didn't like all the local lingo, but otherwise it was an interesting point of view for the story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William Mehl

    Won on goodreads. Had a liitle trouble staying with this one. Humorous with the satire, but just couldnt stay with it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debi Foldi

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Hasler

  9. 5 out of 5

    DJ

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  11. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Davis

  13. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sweetpea

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Hines

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leland Lee

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Schwarzer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Connie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Lessard

  25. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kitty Honeycutt

  27. 4 out of 5

    Russell

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Needelman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  31. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Holt

  32. 4 out of 5

    Larry

  33. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Phung

  34. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda L.

  35. 4 out of 5

    Brittanie Wardlow

  36. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Tiner

  37. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Bradley

  38. 5 out of 5

    Debbi DuBose

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