When rookie FBI agent Mark Putnam received his first assignment in 1987, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream, if not the most desirable location. Pikeville, Kentucky, is high in Appalachian coal country, an outpost rife with lawlessness dating back to the Hatfields and McCoys. As a rising star in the bureau, however, Putnam soon was cultivating paid informants and busting drug rings and bank robbers. But when one informant fell in love with him, passion and duty would collide with tragic results. A coal miner’s daughter, Susan Smith was a young, attractive, struggling single mother. She was also a drug user sometimes described as a con artist, thief, and professional liar. Ultimately, Putnam gave in to Smith’s relentless pursuit. But when he ended the affair, she waged a campaign of vengeance that threatened to destroy him. When at last she confronted him with a shocking announcement, a violent scuffle ensued, and Putnam, in a burst of uncontrolled rage, fatally strangled her.
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