CIA agent John Wells has been undercover so long that his bosses are no longer sure he's still loyal - or even still alive.
For years Wells has been building his cover in the mountains of Afghanistan, his existence known only to a few senior CIA officials. But now he's coming home - and no one, including his CIA minder Jennifer Exley, knows what to expect.
He is a man alone, used by two adversaries and trusted by neither. And as terrorists prepare to unleash the most devastating attack in history, Wells knows he is the only man who can stop them. With or without the government's approval...
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.
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The Faithful Spy
This book is thoroughly researched and well written with a gripping plot that hangs together and is easy to follow, in spite of its complexity, as it moves from location to location and event to event. The descriptive passages enhance the realism and it is a pleasure to read a mass market book where the author has paid attention to the grammar and literacy. One of those books that you don't want to put down, yet don't want to finish.