cover image The Agency

The Agency

James Phelan. Quercus, $26.99 (350p) ISBN 978-1-68144-007-1

Early in Phelan’s fast-paced fifth Jed Walker thriller (after 2017’s Dark Heart), set in 2005, Afghanistan War veteran Walker is tapped to travel to New Orleans on a covert mission after completing his rigorous training with the CIA’s Special Activities Division in Virginia. In a New Orleans bar, where Walker is supposed to exchange code phrases with a male contact, an attractive woman, Steph Mensch, warns him that his cover has been blown and that a guy, newly arrived at the bar, is going to kill him. Walker takes out the killer in the bar’s restroom before going on the run with Steph, who reveals she’s a British intelligence agent. The pair end up trying to track down a secret weapon that some Russians are looking to buy for “hundreds of millions of dollars” while evading attacks from a Blackwater-like private security firm, just as Hurricane Katrina is about to devastate the city. Walker almost single-handedly vanquishes a series of bad guys en route to the triumphant ending. This outing will appeal mainly to action junkies untroubled by uneven prose and paper-thin characters. Agent: Pippa Masson, Curtis Brown. (May)