The Pretender
by Marc Ruskin
Thomas Dunne Books

When Marc Ruskin began working for the FBI in the mid-1980s, the bureau still worked to the rule that agents could spend no more than 10 per cent of their day in the office. By the time Ruskin retired, 27 years later, bureaucracy and paperwork had increased desk time to 53 per cent. This rollicking read, however, is about Ruskin’s undercover work using false identities – a counterfeiter, an insurance scam artist and a Wall Street broker. Ruskin’s fluency in Spanish and French stood him in good stead, as did luck, although he acknowledges that cases go awry as often as crimes do, and sometimes because of “institutional infighting and bullsh*t”. Mostly, however, The Pretender shies from complaints and instead reveals how agents live their lies as they work behind enemy lines.