Paul Lindsay, the hard-digging ex-Detroit FBI agent who became a prolific author, and wrote seven novels — the last two of which were N.Y. Times best sellers — died peacefully Thursday night at a Boston hospital of pneumonia with his family by his side. He had been battling leukemia.By Greg Stejskal ticklethewire.com
Paul Lindsay – He did it his way.
I first met Paul Lindsay in 1975. I had arrived in Detroit fresh from new agents’ class and was assigned to the fugitive squad. Paul ended up being my training agent.
Ordinarily Paul wouldn’t have been assigned a new agent to train – back then Paul wasn’t known for his patience or warmth, and he didn’t suffer fools. New agents tend to be a little foolish, and I was no exception. The guy, who was supposed to be my training agent, was involved in a trial. Paul was his partner so he was stuck with me by default. We didn’t exactly hit it off in the beginning.
Ultimately Paul accepted me, not because I had any great skills or talent, but because I showed that I was willing to work ridiculous hours and to learn.
Paul taught me much.
Paul had earned a reputation as one of the best fugitive agents in the Bureau – he was very good at finding guys who didn’t want to be found. What I learned from Paul was there were no great secrets or tricks to finding fugitives. It entailed hard work and perseverance. But Paul didn’t just work hard. He employed imagination and intelligence.
I eventually moved on to different squads and different violations, but I used the lessons I learned from Paul throughout my career in the FBI. Paul moved on too and later would apply his considerable talents to cold cases and serial killers.
Paul also had a talent for creative writing. He wrote his first book in 1992 while he was still an agent in Detroit. That first book caused some controversy because Paul was not reticent about criticizing some thinly disguised, but still recognizable characters. Usually those characters were in Bureau management.
It also was no coincidence that the heroes of Paul’s books displayed perseverance, intelligence and imagination. Paul’s book (and those that followed) also displayed Paul’s keen rapier like wit – rapier like because Paul was adept at skewered many inflated egos.
Earlier this year, I wrote a review for Paul’s most recent book, Agent X. In that review I described the hero, Steve Vail, as being a “blue-collar intellectual.” Paul wrote me: “If asked to I could have never reduced Vail to a two-word description; “blue-collar intellect” is pretty nifty.” Well I may have been able to reduce Vail to a two word description, but I can’t think of two words, standing alone, that would come close to doing Paul justice.
Paul was not a two dimensional character. He was a multi-dimensional man, who played many roles: husband, father, friend, Marine officer, FBI agent, author, mentor…. He approached those roles, indeed life, with passion, and he did it his way.
“For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!” *
Paul has taken his well-deserved place in the pantheon of FBI legend. He would like that. He embodied the FBI motto: fidelity, bravery, integrity.
*(Frank Sinatra/”My Way,” copyright EMI Music publishing).