A thrilling true crime caper, bursting with colorful characters and awash in '70s glamour, that spotlights the FBI's first white-collar undercover sting.
The Thunderbird Motel, 1977. J. J. Wedick and Jack Brennan - two fresh-faced, maverick FBI agents - were about to embark on one of their agency's first wire-wearing undercover missions. Their target? Charismatic, globetrotting con man Phil Kitzer, whom some called the world's greatest swindler. From the Thunderbird, the three men took off to Cleveland, to Miami, to Hawaii, to Frankfurt, to the Bahamas - meeting other members of Kitzer's crime syndicate and powerful politicians and businessmen he fooled at each stop. But as the young agents, playing the role of protégés and coconspirators, became further entangled in Phil's outrageous schemes over their months on the road, they also grew to respect him - even care for him. Meanwhile, Phil began to think of Jack and J. J. as best friends, sharing hotel rooms and inside jokes with them and even competing with J. J. in picking up women.
Phil Kitzer was at the center of dozens of scams in which he swindled millions of dollars, but the FBI was mired in a post-Watergate malaise and slow to pivot toward a new type of financial crime that is now all too familiar. Plunging into the field with no undercover training, the agents battled a creaky bureaucracy on their adventures with Phil, hoping the FBI would recognize the importance of their mission. Even as they grew closer to Phil, they recognized that their endgame - the swindler's arrest - was drawing near....
Anchored by larger-than-life characters, framed by exotic locales and an irresistible era, Chasing Phil is high drama and a propulsive listen, delivered by an effortless storyteller.
"In the genre of truth-is-stranger-than-fiction, Chasing Phil is a standout. What a wild, wonderful story of cons and crooks, told with great style and swagger." (Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin)
"I can't recall the last time I had so much fun with a true crime book. The plot bobs and weaves, the '70s underworld jet-set scene is rendered with groovy precision, the main characters are big, vibrant, and complex, and the supporting cast seems snatched from a John D. MacDonald caper. Chasing Phil is superb reportage mixed with edge-of-your-seat storytelling." (Jonathan Miles, author of Dear American Airlines and Anatomy of a Miracle)
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