The DeWitt Agency Files

For the first time, Allyson looks out the window. I’m not sure she’s seeing anything, but she isn’t X-raying my soul anymore. After a few moments, she sighs, clicks off her tablet, then closes its cover. I guess the interview is over.

She looks up. “I never told you what it is I do, did I.”

“No. All you said was, you ‘fill needs,’ whatever that means.”

She nods. “I do things for people who need things to be done.”

“Why don’t they do it themselves?”

“They haven’t the skill set. They can’t be seen to be involved. They’re restricted from operating. Any number of reasons, none of which you’ll ever be privy to should I employ you.”

I roll that around a bit. “Who are these people? The CIA? Oil companies? Political parties?”

She arches an eyebrow.

“The Mafia? Terrorists? Drug cartels?”

“Are they so different?”

From The Collection

Allyson DeWitt is the president of The DeWitt Agency. Its headquarters is a brass plate outside a discreet Luxembourgeois lawyer’s office door. Its corporate treasury is in Vanuatu. Its directors are strangely untraceable. Its only other full-time employee is Olivia, who’s able to arrange for the damnedest things when an Agency associate needs help.

Matt Friedrich is the Agency’s newest employee. He has a certain useful set of skills that he learned while working in a crooked L.A. art gallery, and other knowledge that he gained while hanging out in federal prison with Wall Street types who had bad lawyers. He’s out on supervised release and working for $10 an hour at Starbucks to pay off over half a million in debts and restitution.

When one of Allyson’s clients has a need to fill that involves art in whatever form, Matt gets the project. He can knock down a chunk of his debt with each payoff… so long as he stays alive and out of jail. Sometimes he’s paired with Carson, a disgraced Toronto cop who has her own debts, problems, and useful skills. Together they make a pretty good team — if they don’t kill each other first.

Follow Matt as Allyson’s projects drag him around the world, where he sees new places, meets new friends, avoids new enemies, and discovers (or pulls off) new scams. If he plays his cards right, he can make a lot of money, pay off his debts, and build a new life. All he has to do is not screw up… which is much harder than it sounds.

From Thailand with Love: Operation Antiquity

Federal agents outside the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA

Federal agents raid the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana on 1/24/08. Photo credit: LA TIMES

In yet another scrape with the Criminal Element, I talk about an operation smuggling a different sort of pot (not the green kind) from Thailand into the U.S.

A crowd gathered outside the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, on the morning of January 24, 2008. They weren’t museum junkies; they were federal agents raiding the place. By the end of the day, 500 FBI, IRS, and Customs agents had hit the Bowers and 12 other targets, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Diego’s Mingei International Museum, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, the Silk Roads Design Gallery in Los Angeles, and Barry MacLean, a private collector in Chicago. In all, agents seized over 10,000 smuggled antiquities from Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and China.

Read the full article here.

In case you haven’t discovered my articles for Criminal Element, check out the lot right here.

New! Renovations to the Burrow

It was time to dig for some more room here at the Burrow, so I’ve made perhaps the most changes at one time since I built the place. The Collection is the start of a series. The DeWitt Agency Files … Continue reading