Fedarcyk, former assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, combines an insider's sense of authenticity with a singular attention to detail in this debut novel.
Russian double agents are disappearing, and it’s obvious there’s a mole in the CIA, so the agency takes its problem to the FBI’s counterintelligence unit to help find the leak. That’s where FBI Special Agent Kay Malloy comes in. Attached to the Baltimore field office, where she mostly works drug gangs with Torres, her partner of 18 months, Malloy lets a drug kingpin slip through her hands only to end up in a gunfight with him later. Afterward, she’s transferred to the New York counterintelligence unit, supervised by a woman known to most as “Frowny.” Susan Jeffries, legendary head of the branch, sets up a team to look into the CIA’s mole, and before too long, Black Bear, as the operation’s known, begins to bear fruit. But while the Black Bear project attempts to recruit a Russian operative in order to identify the mole inside the CIA, the Russians are themselves targeting Malloy through her brother, Christopher. Fedarcyk keeps all the right balls in the air while painting an interesting and accurate portrayal of how the FBI and the world of counterintelligence work. Although a handsome spy is dropped in, there are no tricked-out Aston Martins, only a portrayal of the day-to-day drudgery agents must endure sifting through mounds of data, looking for anomalies. Fedarcyk’s prose proves both engaging and easy to read, and her characters are well-drawn. But while Malloy connects crucial investigative dots, the author skimps on details in the final showdown, leaving readers guessing as to how the investigation in the end progressed from point A to point Z.
An absorbing read that feels unfinished; and since the FBI’s motto is Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity, it’s a sure bet there’s a reason.