A true tale of counterespionage—the identification, stalking, and capture of a devastatingly effective CIA mole.
The second of Denson’s FBI Files casebooks (after The Unabomber,2019) plays more like a comedy than a thriller. Elements include a CIA functionary’s suddenly driving a Jaguar, fending off a shrewish Colombian mistress-turned–second-wife in recorded conversations, and missing a clandestine meeting in Bogotá because he gets the time wrong, as well as lurking FBI investigators who train carefully to pull quick garbage-can switcheroos, take 45 minutes to pick a lock at the suspect’s house, and manage to lose him on Washington streets despite a radio tracer in his car. But there was nothing funny about Ames’ actions—for nearly nine years between 1985 and 1994 he banked nearly $2 million for feeding bundles of top-secret documents to the KGB that, among other disasters, largely wiped out the CIA’s Soviet assets—and the author preserves an earnest tone as he describes the FBI unit’s methodical gathering of evidence, its surveillance procedures, and how Ames and his co-conspirator wife were persuaded to confess. Still, along with being perhaps startled at how easy it apparently was to receive authorization for wiretaps, break-ins, and like assaults on personal rights, readers may well come away marveling at how both Ames and his pursuers seemed to just bumble along.
Well, the mole was caught…but readers expecting a counterespionage thriller will be underwhelmed. (photos, author’s note, glossary, source list, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)