cover image The Quantum Spy

The Quantum Spy

David Ignatius. Norton, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-25415-0

Will the U.S. or China build the world’s first quantum computer? That’s the question at the heart of this fine espionage thriller from Ignatius (The Director). The Americans appear to have the edge through a company in Seattle—actually a front for the CIA—that’s developing the superfast technology. But the Chinese are just a step behind thanks to corporate theft and good old-fashioned tradecraft; they have managed to turn a disgruntled CIA officer into a spy for the Ministry of State Security. Meanwhile, Harris Chang, an American interrogation specialist new to Langley, uses his Chinese heritage to infiltrate Beijing’s intelligence operations in the U.S. and secretly keep tabs on the Chinese efforts to achieve dominance. In past books, Ignatius has been better at characterization; Chang, for example, at times behaves in ways that seem too naive for a well-trained professional. Still, Ignatius’s realistic peek into the inner workings of the CIA and its Chinese counterpart shows why he’s at the top of the thriller pack. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn, Sagalyn/ICM. (Nov.)