cover image Red London

Red London

Alma Katsu. Putnam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-42195-6

Set in a near future in which Viktor Kosygin has replaced Vladimir Putin as Russia’s president after “the Ukraine fiasco,” Katsu’s entertaining if flawed sequel to 2021’s Red Widow takes CIA agent Lyndsey Duncan to London, to work with Dmitri Tarasenko, a Russian “war criminal and double agent,” but she’s soon taken off the Tarasenko case to go undercover to investigate Russian oligarch Mikhail Rotenberg. The Brits want him out of the U.K.; the CIA wants to know about his relationship with Kosygin. Lyndsey’s mission is to befriend Mikhail’s unhappy English trophy wife, Emily, and see whether she’s open to turning on her husband. As a former CIA agent, Katsu knows her tradecraft, and she does a good job ratcheting up the suspense as Mikhail gets increasingly more fearful and paranoid—and more cruel to Emily, who fears he’ll disappear with their two young children. On the other hand, Emily is little more than a pitiable figure, and there’s way too much backstory. Still, a spy novel that focuses on relationships (including Lyndsey’s), women, and family is a refreshing change from the usual genre fare. Katsu should win new fans with this one. Agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Mar.)