Richard Michaelson is a retired Foreign Services operative.
In the thirty-plus years he worked in that capacity, Michaelson traveled all around the world on various missions for the State Department, sometimes as an attached member of an embassy or consulate and sometimes just as an observer or consultant.
To hear Michaelson discuss the assignments he has dealt with, they were largely of a very routine and mundane nature. To hear others talk about some of them, they were anything but routine and mundane, often very hair-raising and dangerous to life and limb.
Speaking of limb, Michaelson is missing the tip of his left pinkie as a result of one such “routine” task. He explains in one novel that he lost it when he mistakenly got in the way of some flying metal. When pressed hard on the subject, he admitted finally that the metal was a bullet and when pressed even more, that the bullet was fired from an AK-47 by rebels who were very unhappy with him. Such is Michaelson’s manner of explaining his experiences.
Michaelson has explained on a couple of occasions that the State Department learned very early in the existence of the CIA that the Agency did not agree with the separation of roles quite like State saw them and therefore there was a huge amount of distrust of the intelligence that State got from the CIA and vice versa. Therefore, one of the major roles that Michaelson filled was to keep an eye on the same things as the Agency boys were watching so when the CIA reports came in, a different viewpoint was already available. Over the years, Michaelson has acquired a good relationship with many agents from the various Intelligence departments as well as the odd enemy here and there.
As the five-book series opens, Michaelson is in his mid 60’s and has retired a few years before. He is not ready to disappear completely, however, and has his sites set on a more prestigious posting in the current Administration. This ambition is played up quite a few times in each of the books as a method to denigrate his actions by those who feel threatened by them.
In one adventure, he is asked by a member of the White House to look into a matter of some importance but to do so on the quiet. While thus employed, he is faced with stonewalling people who, to protect their own turfs or hides, do not want him to find out what they know and use his celebrated ambition as a reason to dismiss what he seeks.
Dismissing Michaelson is never a good idea, however. He is a very quiet, sedate, self-deprecating man who is not the least bit embarrassed about his desires but he is also not in the least intimidated by the powerful or the posturing. Once he gets his teeth into a job, or a mystery, he does not let go. He does not yell or threaten or demand or beg. He does not have to. He has been around long enough to know that if one way does not work, there are usually two or three other approaches that might and while time can sometimes be a hindrance, it can also be used to his advantage.
The Richard Michaelson adventures are all clearly mysteries based in and around Washington, D.C. and usually involve a body or two. They are also about intrigue and cloak-and-dagger activities and inter-agency rivalries and international crises. Each of these are dealt with by an exceptionally urbane, highly intelligent, very interesting man who has seen enough powerful people come and go to realize that no matter how important someone may be, they will eventually go away just like all the important people before them.