When the CIA cracks a local terrorist cell in Hassan’s debut spy thriller, the higher-ups begin planning an international operation—then 9/11 happens.
For the past 10 years, CIA agent Patricia Foley, a one-time star of the agency, has been stuck in the basement after a list of operatives fell into the wrong hands. There was never clear evidence that Pat cracked, but the list ended up with Mossad, and at the time, she was romantically involved with Danny Golan, an Israeli agent. Now, Pat’s near retirement and her boss, Chase, is feeling like Pat got the short end. A new operation is afoot: An FBI team comprised of Peter Marcone and Dre Parish has just broken into a domestic Muslim cell, and a joint operation is being set up to find the masterminds. Chase offers it to Pat, seemingly as consolation, but Pat’s learned that in the spy trade, few things are ever that simple. After 9/11, the president’s men demand action. To save face, the CIA needs an operation on the ground, so, just like that, Pat’s last hurrah becomes the biggest game in town. She lines up a patsy—a man who’s not even aware he’s part of the operation—and in a month’s time they’re overseas, following the rabbit hole from the Israeli ecstasy trade to the jihad in Chechnya. If Pat has her way, she’ll find Danny at the other end. But whether she’ll kiss or kill the lover who ended her career is anyone’s guess. Like the characters themselves, Hassan’s writing is brief and rather brusque. Reflecting the story’s shortened time frame, scene after scene flies by as the plot twists and new players enter—and exit—the game. Most impressive is how real and distinct each of the many characters feels, especially with so few words afforded them. Readers might struggle early on with the multitude of characters and their overt and covert motivations, but as Hassan layers the meaning of the novel’s title, readers who endure won’t be disappointed.
A fast, brutal thriller about manipulation, drugs and terrorism.