The Coldest Warrior

The Coldest Warrior

In 1953, at the end of the Korean War, Dr. Charles Wilson, an Army bio-weapons scientist, died when he jumped or fell from the ninth floor of a Washington hotel. As his wife and children grieve, the details of his death remain buried for twenty-two years.With the release of the Rockefeller Commission report on illegal CIA activities in 1975, LSD is linked to Wilsons death,...

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Title:The Coldest Warrior
Author:Paul Vidich
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Edition Language:English

The Coldest Warrior Reviews

  • Gram

    A fascinating blend of historical fact and fiction which documents the cover up of the death of a US Army scientist working for the CIA. In 1953, Dr. Charles Wilson was alleged to have committed suicide, jumping or falling from the window of a Washington D.C. hotel, but the exact details of his death are unknown.

    Fast forward to 1975 and the Rockefeller Commission report on on illegal CIA activities reveals that, prior to his death, Wilson had - unknown to him - been given a dose of LSD. Wilson

    A fascinating blend of historical fact and fiction which documents the cover up of the death of a US Army scientist working for the CIA. In 1953, Dr. Charles Wilson was alleged to have committed suicide, jumping or falling from the window of a Washington D.C. hotel, but the exact details of his death are unknown.

    Fast forward to 1975 and the Rockefeller Commission report on on illegal CIA activities reveals that, prior to his death, Wilson had - unknown to him - been given a dose of LSD. Wilson had been involved in germ warfare experiments, one of which was actually carried out on civilians during the Korean War. He'd also taken part in interrogations of Soviet double agents and ex-Nazis working for the CIA in which torture and mind altering drugs were used.

    It seems that, just before his death, Wilson was having doubts about his work.

    As the Senate hearings continue, the Director of the CIA tasks one of his longest serving and respected agents, Jack Gabriel, with finding out what really happened. Gabriel knew the dead man and his family who - 22 years later - along with the US media, are demanding answers .

    After 25 years with the Agency, Gabriel had just tendered his resignation but reluctantly agrees to carry out the Director's wishes.

    Gradually, aided by a Deep Throat type source, he discovers what seems to be the truth, but there are men within the CIA who are desperate to ensure that truth stays buried. Slowly but surely, Gabriel begins to unravel the various threads of this mystery. Misplaced documents he uncovers in Government archives, include a CIA assassination manual from 1953, which instructs agents, "The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface."

    The story's action picks up speed as people involved in the case die in suspicious circumstances and suddenly, he and his family are in danger. Gabriel knows he must risk everything to keep his wife and teenage daughter safe.

    This is a fictional story based on real life events. In 1953, Frank Olson, an American biological warfare scientist and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, was secretly dosed with LSD by his CIA supervisor as part of Project MK-Ultra and later plunged to his death from the window of a New York City hotel room. Official reports said Olson had been depressed and committed suicide, but subsequent investigations indicated the cover-up of an alleged murder. In a forward to this book, the author reveals that Frank Olson was his uncle.

    In this fictional tale, Jack Gabriel realises he's not certain who he can trust. Even if he does find out the real cause of Wilson's death, will he end up another victim of a conspiracy which reaches all the way to the White House?

    The CIA's unofficial motto: "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." but judging by this story, it should be "The end justifies the means." The view of the CIA's Cold Warriors is that morally wrong actions are sometimes necessary to achieve morally right outcomes and some deaths are merely collateral damage.

    The Coldest Warrior deals with the grey areas of America's intelligence wars and how far some will go to cover up crimes from the past. It's an absolutely gripping read by a writer whose spy fiction ranks alongside the best. Highly recommended.

    My thanks to the publishers Oldcastle Books and to NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

  • Greville Waterman

    This is the third thriller I have read by this underrated author and it is an excellent cold war thriller partially based on true events.

    I won't provide any spoilers but simply say that Vidich is a master of time and place and he brilliantly evokes America in the 1950s as a cold case from that period is re-examined and a cover up exposed.

    The characters are well drawn and credible and the plot engrossing. Vidich is a gifted writer and his talent shines through.

    Highly recommended.

  • Paromjit

    Paul Vidich's historical cold war espionage drama is a compulsive and tense thriller that is based on a true story to which he has personal family connections. In the midst of the height of the paranoia of the cold war in 1953, Dr Charles Wilson either falls or jumps off the ninth floor to his death at the Harrington Hotel in Washington, leaving behind a grieving wife and family. The truth is buried until 22 years later, the Rockefeller Commission are reporting on and holding hearings on illegal

    Paul Vidich's historical cold war espionage drama is a compulsive and tense thriller that is based on a true story to which he has personal family connections. In the midst of the height of the paranoia of the cold war in 1953, Dr Charles Wilson either falls or jumps off the ninth floor to his death at the Harrington Hotel in Washington, leaving behind a grieving wife and family. The truth is buried until 22 years later, the Rockefeller Commission are reporting on and holding hearings on illegal CIA activities, under pressure from the Wilson family who want to know the truth and a Agency that is being excoriated by the media. CIA agent Jack Gabriel is on the cusp of retiring, a friend of the Wilson family, when he is asked to find out what happened back then by the current CIA director.

    As Jack begins to investigate, he has no idea just how much danger he and his family will face. It doesn't take long for it to become obvious that there was CIA involvement in Wilson's death, but identifying the culprits and securing evidence seems beyond the realms of possibility with the lack of records. Additionally, there are ruthless and powerful individuals and agents within the CIA, FBI and the White House that have no intention or interest in allowing the truth to emerge. Further obstacles come with the all too convenient deaths of those associated with Wilson's demise. Apparent help comes in the form of a person who has no wish to be identified. The disinterment and examination of Wilson's body all but confirms that he was definitely murdered, contradicting the official reports of his death back in 1953. Indeed, evidence suggests that Wilson's death follows the advice laid out in a CIA Assassination Manual of the time. Gabriel finds himself frustrated by blocks coming from every direction as he searches for the coldest warrior in a thrilling narrative that culminates in a finale on a dark night with Hurricane Eloise raging.

    Vidich makes good use of the actual real life death of Frank Olsen, a bio-warfare scientist, falling or jumping from the thirteenth floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City in 1953. He weaves a riveting espionage tale of a CIA willing to do what ever was thought necessary to keep American secrets in an intensely fought cold war, including the killing of their own citizens. This is a brilliant, fast paced and entertaining read, made all the more engaging given it is based on true life espionage history. Highly recommended. Many thanks to No Exit Press and Oldcastle Books for an ARC.

  • Karen Cole

    Espionage thrillers probably work best when they feel grounded in the truth and The Coldest Warrior is most definitely that; Paul Vidich has fictionalised and expanded upon a family tragedy and explains in the preface that his uncle, Frank Olsen died in 1953 when he "jumped or fell" to his death from his room on the thirteenth floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City. The prologue describes how CIA scientist. Dr Charles Wilson comes to be in a Washington hotel room, viewed via a two-way

    Espionage thrillers probably work best when they feel grounded in the truth and The Coldest Warrior is most definitely that; Paul Vidich has fictionalised and expanded upon a family tragedy and explains in the preface that his uncle, Frank Olsen died in 1953 when he "jumped or fell" to his death from his room on the thirteenth floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City. The prologue describes how CIA scientist. Dr Charles Wilson comes to be in a Washington hotel room, viewed via a two-way mirror, with his fate already sealed. Like his real-life counterpart, his death is explained away as an unfortunate accident or the choice of a depressed man. His murder is inevitable but still chilling - this is a ruthless insider hit and though not described in graphic detail, it certainly sets the scene for what proves to be a tense and disturbing read.

    Twenty-two years later, the CIA is under scrutiny, with public support for the agency suffering after a number of distressing allegations and revelations. When Charles Wilson's name is mentioned during the Rockefeller Commission, the White House summons the director of Central Intelligence, nervous that more dark secrets are going to be aired. With an election looming, the Presidency will seek to distance itself from the scandals of the CIA and in an effort to protect the Agency, the director asks Jack Gabriel to look into Wilson's death. Gabriel is a seasoned agent who is ready to leave the CIA but persuaded to stay on in the short term; his friendship with Wilson and the debt he feels he owes the man and his family meaning he cannot refuse the director's request, despite knowing that his decision will affect his own family.

    The impact on family life that comes from working in intelligence is explored throughout the book, most notably through Gabriel's interactions with his wife, Claire and teenage daughter, Sara. His marriage has endured difficult periods and extended separations due to his job but this latest development threatens all that they have worked for. Gabriel and Claire have faced danger before, especially during his posting in Vietnam but now it is his strained relationship with Sara which becomes particularly painful; the usual strains of a father coming to terms with his daughter being on the cusp of adulthood and finding her own way in the world is further complicated by his role and the secrets he has kept from her. The ultimate consequence of working within intelligence is felt, of course, by the Wilson family who have lived under the shadow of Charles' death for decades. The novel asks the troubling questions as to whether knowing the truth as to what really happened in that hotel room would allow them to feel some sort of closure or would just serve to open up new wounds.

    Throughout The Coldest Warrior, the sense of time and place is vividly realised and the secretive world of intelligence work during the paranoid Cold War years becomes especially unsettling when the adversaries come from within the same organisation. The moral ambiguities of the actions of many of the characters - Gabriel included - is a stark reminder that atrocities are perpetrated by those who protect a nation's interests and secrets. Whether those acts are defensible will be determined by each person's own beliefs but I found this quote to be particularly powerful,

    'Our current history is written with our official denials, and with each denial comes a truth, which defeats the truth. Of course, you'd never get anyone to admit that, but there it is. We've used language cleverly and systematically to make it hard for anyone to say there it is, there's the truth.'

    This tautly paced, intricately plotted novel is thoroughly engaging throughout but becomes utterly irresistible during the final chapters when the sinister sense of tension which steadily escalates during the course of the novel reaches its heart-stopping climax. The nail-biting drama that plays out in the final third of The Coldest Warrior is the icing on the cake of this first-rate thriller. Suspenseful, exciting and authentic, I loved it.

  • Alaknanda Agarwal

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    We always see in movies that the CIA controls everything. They are the eyes and ears of the eyes and ears! So when I saw this book for review, I grabbed the chance to read and review it. It also seemed like a fiction based on a true story, on which a TV series had already been made. It was too good an opportunity to miss.

    The Coldest Warrior is the story of a highly respected scientist, Mr. Olson, who worked in the highest levels in the CIA. He died under mysterious

    Read full review

    We always see in movies that the CIA controls everything. They are the eyes and ears of the eyes and ears! So when I saw this book for review, I grabbed the chance to read and review it. It also seemed like a fiction based on a true story, on which a TV series had already been made. It was too good an opportunity to miss.

    The Coldest Warrior is the story of a highly respected scientist, Mr. Olson, who worked in the highest levels in the CIA. He died under mysterious circumstances, and his family was torn apart by his death and the ensuing legal battle to gather the truth. This respected scientist was the author’s uncle. He saw his aunt and cousin go through the pain of having to lose their husband and father, and how the agency refused to give them the truth. This book is a fictional account, it is not what transpired in reality, but it is very intriguing, and also very believable.

    The story starts off with the death of the eminent scientist. The case had been closed, but is reopened for investigation now. Retired CIA officials are called in for questioning, and nobody knows the truth except the actual truth behind what happened. The current CIA director puts his man Gabriel on the job to find out the reality of Mr. Olson’s death. It helps that Gabriel also has a personal connect with the family. At huge personal risk and huge risk to his family, Gabriel keeps to his task doggedly, until he discovers the whole truth. Obviously, nothing is as it seems, as it was told to the family.

    I loved this book! It’s based on a true incident, it’s also a thriller. For a non-fiction and thriller junkies like me, it was the perfect read. The characters and settings were very realistic. Majority of the people involved belonged to the CIA, and they and they had layers upon layers of personality, which I expect CIA people to have.

    There was one point in the story that was poignant- when Gabriel went to the Olson’s house to discuss something with the son, and the mother hobbled in, it really reflected the extent to which this single incident and the search for truth had broken them. The book is fast-paced, not lagging at any point, and I finished it within a day.

    Highly recommend this book- especially to all thriller and non-fiction lovers.

  • Shelley

    This was an absolutely brilliant work of espionage fiction. I was riveted by the story, right from the very beginning when we witness the events that set of a chain of events that reverberated through the decades.

    Dr. Charles Wilson is deemed to be 'a threat to national security' and so he must be stopped, silenced before he causes irreversible damage to security of the United Stated of America. Men who are trained to take and follow orders without question do so but then have to live with the

    This was an absolutely brilliant work of espionage fiction. I was riveted by the story, right from the very beginning when we witness the events that set of a chain of events that reverberated through the decades.

    Dr. Charles Wilson is deemed to be 'a threat to national security' and so he must be stopped, silenced before he causes irreversible damage to security of the United Stated of America. Men who are trained to take and follow orders without question do so but then have to live with the consequences. They are professionals though so the threat is dealt with and any trace is cleverly cleared away. Dr. Wilson's death is considered a suicide.

    However, years later the files are reopened after the release of the Rockerfeller Commission report on illegal CIA activities in 1975. The current director wants answers, as do the family and so agent Jack Gabriel starts digging. There is someone who wants the facts of the case to remain hidden, in fact they'll stop at nothing to keep the truth from surfacing. Chillingly based on a true story, this is an absolutely brilliant thriller and one that I enjoyed very much. I can imagine this adapted for the screen. It has so much suspense and intrigue and I could not put it down. Thoroughly recommended.

  • miss.mesmerized mesmerized

    1953 the Korean War has ended, but the Cold War emerges and the intelligence services nerves are frayed. When CIA officer Dr Charles Wilson dies under blurry circumstances, all information is closed down immediately. It will take twenty-two years until his death gets the attention it deserves. He jumped or fell from the ninth floor of a Washington hotel and his family is now demanding answers. Jack Gabriel, an old friend of Wilsons, also an agent himself, starts digging and the deeper he gets,

    1953 – the Korean War has ended, but the Cold War emerges and the intelligence services’ nerves are frayed. When CIA officer Dr Charles Wilson dies under blurry circumstances, all information is closed down immediately. It will take twenty-two years until his death gets the attention it deserves. He “jumped or fell” from the ninth floor of a Washington hotel and his family is now demanding answers. Jack Gabriel, an old friend of Wilson’s, also an agent himself, starts digging and the deeper he gets, the more coincidental deaths among key witnesses this cases produces. Somebody tries to hide something and Gabriel soon has to ask himself how much he is willing to risk for the truth.

    Paul Vidich narrates a fictional story based on the real events of the mysterious death of Frank Olson, CIA employee and biological warfare expert. The author has seen himself what the agency’s policy of secretiveness can do to a family: Olson was his uncle and he could witness the family’s grief at close range.

    “That was the story of the Agency then. We could do whatever we wanted because we were fighting the Soviet Union.”

    The CIA killed its own men if need be. What sounds like the plot of a superb spy novel today, was a reality back then. As Vidich recalls, raising the subject at family reunions was a taboo, even though somebody suffered a terrible injustice, everybody remained silent and thus approved of the methods. Reading about the disclosure of Wilson’s/ Olson’s murder makes you oscillate between fascination and abhorrence. A lot has been revealed about the dark sides of espionage and spying, nevertheless, I am still stunned each time I read about how ruthless the business can be and how little a human life counts.

    It is remarkable how Vidich manages to transport the story in an entertaining way even though he is that close to the case. A fast paced read that gives much more insight than you could ever wish for.

  • Lynsey

    I have always been interested in this era of history - perhaps more from the USSR side but then I did do a MA in Russian History! However, what really intrigued me about this book was the fact that it was based on true life events and even more so when I found out that it was the authors Uncle that was thrown out of that hotel window. It must have taken great strength to be able to write this book and I applaud them.

    The book opens with the incident in question where a scientist is thrown out a

    I have always been interested in this era of history - perhaps more from the USSR side but then I did do a MA in Russian History! However, what really intrigued me about this book was the fact that it was based on true life events and even more so when I found out that it was the authors Uncle that was thrown out of that hotel window. It must have taken great strength to be able to write this book and I applaud them.

    The book opens with the incident in question where a scientist is thrown out a hotel window whilst residing in a CIA safe house / room. It then quickly moves to the Senate trial on the events which took place 20 years ago. What follows is an organisation looking to protect itself, a group of people scrambling to pass the buck with only one out of them really wanting to get to the truth.

    This is a fast paced novel which keep your attention right to the end! It’s very engaging and the knowledge that this can and did happen in the world makes the narrative all that more realistic. The characters are captivating, especially Gabriel and his daughter.

    This is definitely a book I would recommend without question.

  • Truman32

    Who exactly is the

    in Paul Vidichs historical spy thriller? Is it CIA agent Jack Gabriel who is tasked with investigating the death of his colleague and friend, bio-weapons scientist Charles Wilson? An investigation that may reveal that his own agency killed one of their own?!! Is it the agents who may have crossed the line into murder and now decades later need to cover their tracks or risk Congressional exposure? Or perhaps the

    is career army napper Beetle Baily

    Who exactly is the

    in Paul Vidich’s historical spy thriller? Is it CIA agent Jack Gabriel who is tasked with investigating the death of his colleague and friend, bio-weapons scientist Charles Wilson? An investigation that may reveal that his own agency killed one of their own?!! Is it the agents who may have crossed the line into murder and now decades later need to cover their tracks or risk Congressional exposure? Or perhaps the

    is career army napper Beetle Baily who ducked into one of mess sergeant Cookie’s refrigerators to catch a few winks away from angry Sgt. Snorkel and his strangely anthropomorphic pet, Otto, and now finds himself trapped in a frigid and confined space?

    Like a date with General Halftrack’s beautiful blonde secretary Miss Buxley,

    contains multitudes of secrets and hidden pleasures that the reader must discover on their own. In fact, the less said about this book the better the experience will be for the reader. Not wanting to ruin anything, I can only share with you that the book is rectangular, red, and told using the English language. If this appeals to you, than my friends you are in for a treat!

    Full of moral complexity, the writing in

    is as sharp as the ironed creases in Private “Killer” Diller’s uniform before he heads out on a weekend leave. The twists and turns the story takes will have the reader as befuddled as poor bucktoothed Private Zero, that naïve farm boy who misunderstands everything.

    Just by looking at the back jacket author photograph, you can see that Vidich has the unhinged quality in his expression one normally only finds in truly talented writers or serial killers.

  • Rowena Hoseason

    The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface. Thats how a CIA manual from the early 1950s instructed its agents in the ultimate sanction. And thats what happened in 1953 to a scientist who may have been involved in MK-ULTRA, the American bio-warfare project which attempted mind control through psychoactive drugs.

    The Coldest Warrior picks up the thread of this story a quarter-century later in the mid-1970s. This skeleton is rattling so

    ‘The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.’ That’s how a CIA manual from the early 1950s instructed its agents in the ultimate sanction. And that’s what happened in 1953 to a scientist who may have been involved in MK-ULTRA, the American bio-warfare project which attempted mind control through psychoactive drugs.

    The Coldest Warrior picks up the thread of this story a quarter-century later in the mid-1970s. This skeleton is rattling so loud that it threatens to come crashing out of the cupboard and ruin the careers of agency operatives – now at director level – and the politicians who quietly sponsor them. The subsequent cover up requires the involvement of a deniable black-ops unit, in conflict with an ‘honest spy’ whose sources and even his family are at risk as he gets nearer to the truth.

    This book sits slightly uncomfortably in that space between the real world – where an American government employee being shoved out of a hotel window by CIA agents is indeed shocking – and the fictional world of espionage adventure where such events are small beer indeed.

    This is a low-key investigation into the murky territory of inter-agency rivalry. A quiet menace pervades the narrative but it’s not a rip-roaring page-turning action-packed thriller by any means.

    I struggled to make a connection with any of the characters, or to believe that the protagonist was genuinely at risk. Nor were there any particularly shocking revelations; perhaps because we’ve become desensitised to the murderous behaviour of intelligence agencies towards their own citizens.

    So this was an intellectually engaging read, but not an intense or involving one. It’s well researched and easy enough to read, but offers few of the poetic moments of grit or gravitas which bring real emotional impact to the espionage genre.

    7/10

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