"The Counterfeit Agent" by Alex Berenson; Putnam (384 pages, $27.95)
Global politics continue to be complicated and contemporary spy thrillers must match that with Byzantine plots if they are to be believable.
Timely stories and labyrinth plots, meticulously researched, are a hallmark of the geopolitical thrillers from Alex Berenson. The author's eye for details about global issues was honed when he was an award-winning investigative reporter, two stints as a correspondent in Iraq, at the New York Times. For his novels, the Edgar-wining Berenson conducts his own research, often in war-torn areas.
The result are solid spy thrillers with believable plots that, despite their complexity, never lose sight that world events are all about the basic human experiences. Berenson's realistic, three-dimensional characters suffer from greed, jealousy and prejudice, whether they reside in the U.S. or the Middle East.
Ex-CIA agent John Wells, making his eighth appearance in "The Counterfeit Agent," works undercover and off the books to stop a CIA station chief from being assassinated in Iran. Wells is up against a secret international agency that is trying to deceive the American government into bombing Iran.
Berenson ratchets up the action to the highest degree while keeping his characters balanced and intriguing. Despite John's penchant to rush into situations, no matter the danger, he is a believable character.
"The Counterfeit Agent's" gripping plot leaves no doubt a sequel is coming.