cover image Red Widow

Red Widow

Alma Katsu. Putnam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-525-53941-4

Lyndsey Duncan, one of two female CIA officers at the center of this quiet but gripping espionage thriller from Katsu (Hunger), has just returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., her reputation tainted by an affair she had with a British intelligence officer in Lebanon. Nonetheless, she’s assigned to check out rumors of a mole in the CIA’s Moscow operation. Lyndsey’s investigation eventually leads her to analyst Theresa Warner, who’s still reeling from the apparent death of her husband, an agency spy handler who disappeared in Russia two years earlier while on a mission. Theresa has discovered that her husband is still alive, in a Russian prison, and the CIA has been lying to her. An outraged Theresa has agreed to pass secrets to the Russians in exchange for the release of her husband. Katsu, a former intelligence analyst, captures the thorny but oddly intimate alliance between two CIA officers who share an adversarial relationship with their employer, while providing an intriguing look at the day-to-day office politics and jostling that goes on behind Langley’s walls. Best known for her novels of psychological terror, Katsu shows a sure hand at a new genre. Agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Mar.)