Off the Shelf: The Last Operative

Books new and old that have caught my eye.

The Last Operative

By Jerry B. Jenkins

Jordan Kirkwood wants to go quietly into the sunset. His career as an NSA intelligence officer has taken a significant toll. His two adult children are little more than distant acquaintances. His wife has been patient and supportive, but he knows she has deserved better. That was part of the reason they were going to London. He wanted her to see Europe like a tourist. But that was before he was given intelligence information during the recent mission to Germany. The threat is grave-bigger than 9/11. And the risk is compounded by the fact that someone inside the NSA is involved. The most hidden place in Kirkwood’s past will have to be unmasked in order to meet the challenges of this mission.

I asked Jerry to provide some background on this book. Here’s what he said:

The Last Operative is a thorough retelling of my very first stand-alone novel. In its original incarnation more than twenty years ago, it was titled The Operative, and it marked what I considered a major step in my writing journey.

My first novels consisted of a thirteen-book series called The Margo Mysteries, and they caught the eye of a veteran Harper & Row editor named Roy Carlisle. Roy was intrigued by those early efforts and encouraged me to keep growing and stretching. I had long secretly dreamed of one day publishing with Harper & Row, so it became my goal to land a contract with them.

Every chance I got in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I pitched Roy on the idea of an international spy thriller. He listened but urged me to keep learning my chops in series fiction. I still remember the day Roy finally called to offer a contract on The Operative. I felt I was graduating to a new level of publishing.

The original novel garnered a loyal cadre of fans, including some of the staff of Tyndale House. I couldn’t have been happier last year when they asked me to do a complete rewrite and resurrect the story for today’s readers. It became a labor of love to dive back into it and write it the way I would today after twenty-plus years more experience.

Students of the genre may be intrigued by what I consider a successful experiment in the treatment of dialogue in this novel. Much is made today over how to make dialogue taut and realistic and how best to attribute it to various characters with variations on “he said” or “she said.” In the original version—and this one—I took what I considered a thoroughly innovative approach by having no such language and not one reader told me they were confused about who was speaking.

I attempted to make each speaker obvious without attributing any dialogue to anyone.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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