Meet the author - book launch on 10/10 at 187 Rue Principale in Emmaus, PA.
David Howard has written a great book. CHASING PHIL follows the real-life exploits of two FBI agents going undercover, with no training, to nab a charming con man pulling off intricate, white-collar crimes while traveling the world. It is the 1970’s, an era when the FBI is just learning how to run undercover ops, and the danger of the agents being blown is constant. The close calls and seat-of-the-pants, make-it-up-as-you-go decision making is non-stop as they fly around the globe, schmooze with British royalty, and even scam Elvis Presley out of his private jet and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their target is part of a loose international confederation of a dozen or so con men, and women, who coordinate financial scams so intricate that the agents devise a tag-team method to gather intel, one concentrating on the people — who they are and where they sit during a meeting — while the other focuses on the details of conversation and plans, and even goes under hypnosis to recall as much as possible! Woven throughout the intense storyline, Howard makes the protagonists, on both sides, real for the reader. We come to know the agents and the criminal they are after, their motivations and the toll their paths take on them and their families. It is an incredible story, and Howard tells it well and with style.
— Jim H.
A thrilling true crime caper, bursting with colorful characters and awash in '70s glamour, that spotlights the FBI's first white-collar undercover sting 1977, the Thunderbird Motel. 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 proteges and co-conspirators, 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 propulsive reading, delivered by an effortless storyteller.
About the Author
DAVE HOWARD has written for the New York Times, Men's Journal, Outside, Travel & Leisure, and Bicycling, among other outlets. He is also the author of Lost Rights.