cover image How to Catch a Russian Spy

How to Catch a Russian Spy

Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican. Scribner, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0495-4

Jamali didn’t grow up with a burning desire to be a spy and actually didn’t have much direction at all in his younger days, comfortably coasting through life. He settled into a management role in the family business, a company that sold hard-to-find articles, reports, and data for businesses and government agencies including some shady Russians. The FBI had been aware of this for some time, and Jamali’s family happily cooperated, offering the agency a list of the materials the mysterious Russian figures requested after each visit. But on a crisp December day in 2005, a suspected Russian spy named Oleg Kulikov entered the office in Westchester, N.Y., where Naveed worked. Eager to take a more active role in the monitoring of this suspicious activity, Jamali embarked on a hair-raising stint as a double agent working for both the Russians and the FBI that lasted three years. Jamali gleefully recounts those tense times in this page-turner of a memoir, detailing the less-than-dramatic drop-off locations (Pizzeria Uno) and artfully sharing details of how he gained Oleg’s confidence. This highly entertaining read is enhanced by the author’s self-deprecating sense of humor. Agent: Hannah Brown Gordon, Foundry Literary + Media. (June)