The Faithful Spy -- Ma Titwonky

The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson won the 2007 Edgar Award. It is the fictional story of John Wells, an American and agent for the CIA. He is also the first and only American to have joined the ranks of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and moved up the pecking order toward becoming a trusted insider. His goal is to report as much information as possible back to the CIA so that al-Qaeda can be stopped before attacking the US once again. The problem is that both the CIA and al-Qaeda want his unquestionable loyalty, and being a slave to those two masters proves to be a very difficult and dangerous occupation.

The Faithful Spy is to spy thrillers what the Russians vs American Agent novels were to the Cold War. Anyone with an interest in the current global climate of terrorism would find something to engage him/her in this novel. It's timely, well written, and tightly plotted. It gives readers a sense of what kinds of sacrifices people who do what John Wells does make on a daily basis. It also points out the extraordinary sense of alertness and focus people on either side of the terrorism issue need to have all the time. Except, and this point is well made in the book, terrorists can be wrong many times; Counterterrorism agents only need to be wrong once. The responsibility is intense, and many who do this kind of work lead very solitary lives because the work consumes more of their time than anything else does.

Ever since 9/11, I have read more and more books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the influence of terrorism world-wide. I found A Faithful Spy to be an excellent addition to my collection. Not only is this a timely subject, but Alex Berenson has a very good grasp of the whole terrorism concept, and he was able in The Faithful Spy to give his readers a compelling sense of what fighting such an abomination can be. It's all-consuming and exhausting.