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ESPIONAGE by Tom Easton


Regime Change

From the A Psychic CIA Novel series, volume 1

by Tom Easton & Frank Wu

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2023
Publisher: Amazing Selects,

Former psychic agents band together to thwart assassins targeting them—and world leaders—in Easton and Wu’s SF thriller.

Gabriel Thomas was certain that he and his friend, Bernarde Cardonne, were the only mind-readers left. Both of these men, now senior citizens, once worked for intelligence agencies: Gabriel for the CIA and Bernarde for France’s DGSE. But the peace of their relatively quiet lives (they own and run a French restaurant called Chez Bernie in Washington, D.C.) is shattered by the sudden presence of other psychics. Gabriel meets an apparently friendly one named Katrinka Kharatyan, a Russian who initially contacts him via coded text messages. On the global stage, world leaders are dying; the deaths initially seem natural but are later deemed assassinations when more overt attempts are made against American politicians, including the president. The CIA wants to “re-establish” the psychic team, which may be the reason the assassins eventually train their sights on the mind-readers; now, Gabriel, Katrinka, and Bernarde are in danger, along with Colin Visnic, a teenage guitarist, and Calli Maduro, a woman who previously used her skills in the service of a Mexican federal agency. After the group survives an attack, Quentin Gibson, Gabriel’s ex-boss at the CIA, suggests using Chez Bernie as a “listening post and base of operations.” It’s there that they fight off all sorts of threats, from character assassination to the more traditional variety, leveled against political figures and the psychics themselves. Meanwhile, their adversaries regularly meet and grow increasingly determined to take out their targets as they work to implement a long-brewing plan that they believe will be their “crowning achievement,” regardless of who stands in their way.

Easton and Wu generate a brisk, entertaining fusion of supernatural and espionage thrillers. The narrative perspective hops around the sprightly cast, highlighting the former mind-reader agents, the baddies incessantly dreaming up schemes, and the FBI agents desperate to protect sensitive information that’s been “leaking like a sieve.” The psychics are a likable bunch; two of them spin off into an enjoyably subtle romance and a few come with engaging backstories (Katrinka first meets fellow mind-reader Calli in a cooking class). While most of the psychics wield telepathy, Katrinka also has a limited telekinetic power. But it’s her other ability—she glimpses the future—that imbues the story with beaucoup suspense. On the spy front, there are welcome genre trademarks, including a double-cross, enemy agents that aren’t easy to spot, and an alarming lack of privacy (surveillance drones constantly hover). In keeping with the story’s unwavering pace, faux newspaper articles aptly sum up the public’s ever-changing opinions as events unfold. The authors craft a final act that boasts a solid resolution, though the book ends with a hint that a sequel will follow. 

A sublime, diverting hybrid-genre tale with chic supernatural powers and series potential.