The Resource The faithful spy : a novel, Alex Berenson

The faithful spy : a novel, Alex Berenson

Label
The faithful spy : a novel
Title
The faithful spy
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Alex Berenson
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
John Wells, an undercover operative who has infiltrated al Qaeda, is trapped between his terrorist associates and the CIA, which no longer trusts his loyalty, when he becomes a prime suspect in two bombings in Los Angeles
Member of
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Award
Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Mystery Novel, 2007.
Review
  • /*Starred Review*/ Two years after U.S. secret agent John Wells infiltrates al-Qaeda, the events of 9/11 call into question his usefulness, if not his loyalty, but he keeps his cover and bides his time, burrowing closer to Osama while sincerely converting to the one true faith of Islam as the years slip by. When al-Zawahiri sends him home at last, it is to serve some undetermined role in a major, multiphase offensive cleverly designed to strike terror in the American heart by unleashing conventional, biological, and nuclear attacks from coast to coast. Berenson works against the inherent sensationalism of his story with a diversity of viewpoints and deft character sketches that avoid oversimplifying the complex beliefs and strategies of his combatants. The plotting is superlative, baffling readers and characters alike as the mastermind behind al-Qaedas sleeper network wages covert war against a vigilant and resourceful enemy. As with Thomas Harris Black Sunday (1975) or Joseph Finder's Zero Hour (1996), one could hardly ask for a more skillful, timely, and well-rounded translation of our worst fears into satisfying thrills; a sure bet for fans of Jack Higgins and Vince Flynn. -- David Wright (Reviewed 03-15-2006) (Booklist, vol 102, number 14, p30)
  • After proving his loyalty in Afghanistan and elsewhere, CIA agent John Wells, the first Western intelligence officer to penetrate the upper levels of al-Qaeda, is assigned a mission on American soil by bin Laden's chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. On his return to the U.S., Wells, now a devout Muslim (for real), finds his years spent in deep cover have left him conflicted. The agency itself seems wary of him—other than Jennifer Exley, the agency analyst who debriefs Wells (aka Jalal) on his return. The scrutiny intensifies when two bombs go off in L.A., killing 300. Berenson, a New York Times correspondent since 1999 who covered the occupation of Iraq, deftly employs the classic staples of spy fiction in his debut novel—self-serving bureaucrats, a beautiful co-worker love interest and an on-the-run hero suspected of being a traitor—then mixes in current terror tropes: car bombs, smuggled nuclear material, and bio-weapons. There's too much introspection from friend and foe alike, but mounting suspense, a believable scenario and a final twist add up to a compelling tale of frightening possibilities. It's not for the squeamish, though: the torture sequences and bombing descriptions are graphic and chillingly real. (Apr. 25) --Staff (Reviewed February 13, 2006) (Publishers Weekly, vol 253, issue 7, p63)
  • John Wells, a CIA special operations agent, was the first Westerner to graduate from the al Qaeda camps near Kandahar. After years spent fighting undercover in Afghanistan and Chechnya, he has been sent home to execute an unknown mission. Now a Muslim and a harsh judge of America's decadence, he finds that his CIA handlers no longer trust him. Even worse, neither does his Pakistani contact, an expert bomber who has prepared a series of devastating attacks on major U.S. cities. When Wells escapes from the CIA safe house where he is being interrogated, no one knows whether this double spy will stop a planned attack or help carry it out. In his debut thriller, investigative reporter Berenson has come up with an intriguing premise. However, when a plot adheres this closely to today's headlines, the novel's characters need to be truly convincing and the suspense ratcheted up a step, or else one might as well be reading a newspaper. The threats with which this thriller deals—fertilizer bombs, the plague, anthrax—are all too common, and a tepid romance that seems to have no real foundation adds little to the mix. Well written, but pretty standard stuff. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/06.]—Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson --Ronnie H. Terpening (Reviewed April 1, 2006) (Library Journal, vol 131, issue 6, p80)
  • /* Starred Review */ A thriller worthy of le Carré, beginning with an improbable premise—namely, the infiltration of al-Qaeda by an American agent.John Wells is a former college football star, unrepentant about having broken a Yalie's leg on the field of battle. Now, in a real war, he's a devout Muslim with a long beard and access to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri. But is he really a fundamentalist promoting terror? That's the lingering question of this taut tale by New York Times reporter Berenson (The Number, 2003), who deftly imagines the international shadowland where spooks and assassins ply their trades. In doing so, Berenson avoids the perils of caricature; his bad guys are legion, but they are also recognizably human, and if some of them are a shade evil ("The thought of attacking America always excited him"), others are not completely on board with the whole slaughter-the-infidel program. Wells, as it happens, works for the Great Satan; he's a "singular national asset," but one who likes to play by his own rules. Still, has he been turned? The bad guys seem to think he's one of them, for they've sent Wells home to enact a chain of events that will end with the detonation of a dirty bomb somewhere in New York. There are moments in all this that beg for the willing suspension of disbelief, but Berenson doesn't belabor them; neither does he overwork the formulas (rogue agent falls in love with beautiful but hard-bitten agency handler; bad guys make murderous mayhem), though the book is full of genre conventions. The payoff is tremendous, and there are standout episodes that hint that the fundamentalists know how to work American decadence—as when one terrorist recruits a patsy by telling him that it's all part of an audition for reality TV.Well done throughout, and sure to be noticed. After all, Keanu Reeves has already expressed interest in playing Wells. (Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
143472
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Berenson, Alex
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3602.E75146
LC item number
F35 2006
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
Series statement
John Wells novels
Series volume
0001
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Qaida (Organization)
  • Qaida (Organization)
  • Terrorism
  • Intelligence service
  • Intelligence service
  • Terrorism
Label
The faithful spy : a novel, Alex Berenson
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocm61758037
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
334 pages
Isbn
9780739326572
Lccn
2005044689
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other control number
9780345478993
Specific material designation
regular print
System control number
(OCoLC)61758037
Label
The faithful spy : a novel, Alex Berenson
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocm61758037
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
334 pages
Isbn
9780739326572
Lccn
2005044689
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other control number
9780345478993
Specific material designation
regular print
System control number
(OCoLC)61758037

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