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‘Flight of the Fox’

With only 365 days to go to the big 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, aka Woodstock, some aficionados may already be champing at the bit to get started on some activities that give them a bit of advance Woodstock flavor. Have no fear: Gray Basnight, a resident of Sullivan County and New York City, has provided us with a goody to start out with: a political thriller set about a year in the future that kicks off in our own backyard. Protagonist Sam Teagarden was conceived at the original Woodstock concert; we meet him minding his own business on his back deck in Bethel, NY, just before the 50th anniversary, when he is attacked by a bevy of killer drones. Indeed, he gets within shouting distance of the grounds at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in a breathlessly paced opening sequence that has him dodging the drones and escaping into the woods, stumbling into a bungalow colony and grabbing some Hasidic garb as a disguise.

The rest of Basnight’s book, “Flight of the Fox,” is a game of wits between Teagarden and his pursuers, denizens of the deepest of deep states, who will stop at nothing to keep the math professor—who happens also to be an expert in cryptology—from successfully decrypting and making public a series of compromising (to the FBI) letters that have fallen into his lap almost by accident.

Not just Woodstock lovers, but lovers of puzzles, will have fun with the book too. You can work along with Teagarden to untangle parts of the code, and it’s a tantalizing challenge to anyone to figure out: who is this mysterious person Cat, who wrote the letters back in the Hoover period of the FBI? Who is the “Dear John” to which they are addressed? And even when decoded into letters, what on earth do this person’s coy messages mean—and why are they worth killing (or dying) for?

Basnight spent almost three decades in broadcast news before turning to fiction writing. Previous books include “Shadows in the Fire,” a Civil War historical novel, and “The Cop with the Pink Pistol,” which also contains some local Catskills color. He will be doing a reading/signing at the Mamakating Library in Wurtsboro, NY at 6:30 p.m. on September 27.

“Flight of the Fox” is published by Down & Out Books, paperback, $18.95.


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