Catch Me: Kill Me by William H. Hallahan. Avon, 1978. (Originally published by Bobbs-Merrill, c1977)
1978 Edgar Award Winner for Best Novel
Despite being published in 1978, Catch Me: Kill Me still felt relevant. The book is about the abduction of and search for a Russian national in the U.S. Boris Kotlikoff is a Russian poet who has defected to the United States thus renouncing his Russian citizenship. The added element of Kotlikoff being Jewish made for an interesting story as the novel addressed the desire of Jews to escape Soviet Russia. Just a few days before he is eligible to become a citizen, Kotlikoff is kidnapped by a group of Russians from Grand Central Station. The U.S. government has no idea why and can do nothing about it. Kotlikoff doesn't enjoy the protections of any nation. He is a man without a country. The reader is immediately yanked into the action by the abduction scene that opens the book.
Catch Me: Kill Me is organized into sections, which bounce back and forth between a U.S. government attorney and a former CIA agent who is recruited to try and save Kotlikoff rogue-style. Leary, the lawyer, is determined to find out why Kotlikoff was taken and Brewer, the CIA agent, is hell-bent on finding him in order to regain his own status within the government.
Hallahan uses the snappy dialogue one would expect of the era. Though the treatment of women is somewhat pig-headed, it doesn't hurt the story. There really aren't any female characters that play a large enough role for it to grate on your nerves. I was also struck by some of the poetic turns of phrase that matched the poet identity of Kotlikoff. The novel is well structured, and I felt rewarded in the end. Everything comes together in a pretty amazing way.
I thoroughly enjoyed Catch Me: Kill Me, my first read for the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge. I would definitely recommend it not only to those participating in the challenge but others as well.