cover image Black Wolf

Black Wolf

Kathleen Kent. Mulholland, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-28021-1

This intelligent, propulsive spy thriller from Edgar finalist Kent (the Betty Rhyzyk series) takes Melvina “Mel” Donleavy, a 26-year-old CIA agent on her first undercover mission, to Minsk, Soviet Belarus, a dangerous place in 1990 as Soviet control crumbles and the Byelorussian mafia gains increasing power. A “super recognizer,” Mel has the uncanny ability to remember every face she sees. Mel’s four-person team poses as a U.S. State Department group researching possible funding to the newly sovereign country. Their real task is to gather intel and assess new threats. Mel’s been given her own top-secret assignment: to investigate rumors that Iran is negotiating a clandestine pact with Belorussia to secure nuclear weapons. She soon appears on the radar of Martin Kavalchuk (aka the Black Wolf), the head of the country’s KGB. Meanwhile, women have been disappearing from the streets of Minsk, the work of a serial killer known as the Svisloch Strangler, and Mel winds up investigating the case. Kent draws on her own experience working for the U.S. Department of Defense to create an utterly convincing espionage novel full of tradecraft. Readers will eagerly await Mel’s further adventures. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Feb.)