Friday, July 18, 2014

The Counterfeit Agent

by Alex Berenson

“In this newest John Wells novel from Berenson (The Night Ranger, 2013, etc.), the superagent tries to foil a plot to force the U.S. into a war with Iran.
John Wells’ girlfriend responded to his marriage proposal with a counteroffer: Stop doing work for the CIA, or it’s over. Unfortunately for Wells’ love life, Vinny Duto—who recently traded his post as CIA director for a seat in the Senate—chooses that moment to call and ask for a meeting. He’s gotten a tip from a former associate that someone—allegedly a CIA case officer—is out to assassinate a station chief. Meanwhile, the agency station in Istanbul has been talking to an anonymous source who claims to be a Revolutionary Guard colonel. The source mentions an attack on a CIA station chief and insists his fellow Iranians are behind the plot. When the attack happens, the agency takes the source’s next claim—that the Iranians are planning to smuggle enriched nuclear material into the U.S.—very seriously. But Wells, Duto and Wells’ former boss, Ellis Shafer, aren’t sure. Unfortunately, Ellis is on the outs at the agency, and as a freshman senator, Duto doesn’t have any sway at Langley anymore. If the three of them are going to figure this out, they’re going to have to do it without the agency's help. Fans of Berenson's John Wells series will happily find more of the same here. Wells gets himself out of scrape after scrape using his considerable brains and brawn, while Ellis Shafer lets loose his usual array of dry zingers. But as always, Berenson sets this series apart by doing his homework. The locations are meticulously researched and exceptionally well-realized. Berenson also clearly knows his spycraft, and his knowledge of the inner workings at Langley adds an additional layer of detail. The dialogue is occasionally wooden but less so than most novels in the genre. And in a series first, the novel's end leaves plenty of loose threads dangling, allowing copious room for a sequel.
Another well-crafted entry in Berenson's excellent John Wells series.”

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