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Review: Red Widow by Alma Katsu

Title: Red Widow

Author: Alma Katsu

Year Published: 2021

Category: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 352
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (VA, DC), Russia

Summary (from Amazon): Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during an assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague--now Chief of the Russia Division--recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, where she was known as the "human lie detector" and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been exposed--including one of her own--and the CIA is convinced there's a mole in the department. With years of work in question and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.

Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can't avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous "Red Widow," the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband's legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she unearths a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it....

Review:  I have heard such good things about this novel! I am not sure how to categorize this book since it isn't really a mystery, but it isn't totally a thriller. I went with mystery. The author was a CIA senior intelligence analyst so she knows what she's talking about when building the characters and scenes for this novel and it shows as I felt that I was in the investigative world.

There are many moving parts to this novel, which is no surprise. Lot of operatives and assets to keep track of and I was never really sure whom to trust. And, we meet the character called the Red Widow early on. She is the title character so surely she is key to the whole intrigue, right? I kept my eye on her throughout the book and was still surprised when it all began to unravel and become clear what had actually happened.

This is the type of book that would make a good movie. The viewer would be tense and angry throughout as the CIA and FSB (Russian equivalent) use their own and their assets like pawns in a chess game. There seems to be no real regard for human life, rather they want to keep the upper hand in the spy game. I found reading this story really interesting and it definitely entertained me.

Update: My dad reads a lot of spy novels by old school men and I was a bit wary of giving this one to him, but he really liked it!

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Cloak and Dagger
  • Literary Escapes--Russia

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