Monday, April 23, 2012

The Best Spy Nonfiction of 2012

Recent spy stories in the news:

The Gareth Williams Case

Revelations about British spy Gareth Williams, who died in 2010, keep dribbling out:

  • His iPhone was wiped clean of data hours before his death
  • A secret meeting between MI6 and Scotland Yard hours after the discovery of Williams’ body
  • He was being followed in the weeks before his death
  • Police still believe his death was linked to his personal life
  • The “Mediterranean couple” has been deemed irrelevant to the case
  • Williams had once been found tied to his bed, calling for help
  • His death was probably not linked to bondage or a sex game
  • The coroner ruled that Williams was likely killed in a criminal act by a "third party" possibly a trusted colleague
  • Williams may well have been poisoned and was still alive when placed in the bag
  • Police are collecting DNA from his spy colleagues to match up with that found in his apartment, results expected in a couple weeks
  • It is unlikely the complete truth will ever be known
  • But an amateur has demonstrated it is possible to lock oneself inside the bag, despite the inability of experts to do so.
New Pentagon Agency

The Pentagon has launched the Defense Clandestine Service. Spy troops could pose as businessmen, thereby protecting military assets. Officers would work alongside CIA agents anywhere in the world, as needed.

The Pollard Case

Did Jonathan Pollard have an accomplice and is that why he is still jailed? Bad health is cited as a reason why Pollard may be released early. Reading the news reports of pro-Pollard activists, one might think he were a human rights activist rather than a treasonous spy.

European Mosque Trap

MI6 and Muammar Gaddafi’s spy service set up a radical mosque in an unnamed European city to lure in Al Qaeda terrorists.

The Delisle Case

In Canada, Lt. Jeffrey Delisle sent a large amount of sensitive military data to Russia and was arrested earlier this year. The amount of intelligence data sent by Delisle is considered equivalent to the volume of US data given to Wikileaks by Bradley Manning.

New Books of Interest:

Aid, Matthew M. Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror.
Despite huge post-9/11 intelligence budgets, the war on Islamist terrorism has floundered and Aid attempts to explain why. Based on interviews and Wikileaks documents. Aid is the author of the highly-regarded book The Secret Sentry, a history of the NSA.

Birstein, Vadim. SMERSH: Stalin’s Secret Weapon, Soviet Military Counterintelligence in WWII.
James Bond aficionados know about SMERSH as a sinister opponent in the Ian Fleming novels, but it was a real organization under Joseph Stalin in WWII. Information about SMERSH became available after the fall of the Soviet Union. A biography of its director, Viktor Abakumov, is presented for the first time.

Peritz, Aki and Eric Rosenbach. Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed Osama Bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda.
A decade after 9/11 the US finally learned how to combat terrorists. No major attacks have occurred on the homeland. The Find, Fix, and Finish policy articulated by Donald Rumsfeld has been responsible for many successes, the authors say.

Sharp, David H. The CIA’s Greatest Covert Operation: Inside the Daring Mission to Recover a Nuclear-Armed Soviet Sub.
Several books have been written about the Azorian mission, but author Sharp, the Azorian Director of Recovery Systems, feels those accounts have gotten the facts wrong, while the CIA has continued to keep details of the recovery project shrouded in secrecy.

Read The Best Spy Nonfiction of 2011

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Best Spy Fiction of 2012

Updated 5/7/12

Here is a selection of noteworthy spy novels published in 2012:

Caplan, Thomas M. The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen.
Ty Hunter is a former military intelligence officer who becomes Hollywood’s top leading man (bet there haven’t been many of those). The president recruits him to save the world from nuclear disaster. Reviews have been positive; Library Journal compares Caplan to Ian Fleming, wow! The WaPo highlights Bill Clinton’s intro, as you would expect from them. Required reading, sez the NY Post. Kirkus splashes some cold water with their usual ho-hum verdict, and the Chicago Sun-Times thinks it awful, killed by leaden prose! That’s critics for you.

Berenson, Alex. The Shadow Patrol.
John Wells is recruited to find out what’s the problem with the CIA station in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nothing but failure since a suicide bomber blew himself up there in 2009. All the pundits seem to like this one.

Flynn, Vince. Kill Shot.
Flynn has emerged as one of the most popular thrillerists going today, receiving plaudits from presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Rush Limbaugh. Nine dead bodies are found in a Paris hotel and Flynn’s superhero Mitch Rapp is thought to have been responsible. Maybe Rapp, who has caused an international crisis, would be better off dead to avoid any further embarrassment.

Garrison, Paul. Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command.
Look at the front cover of this book. What’s the biggest thing you see? The name Robert Ludlum. Now find the author’s name. Get the idea? Ludlum died over a decade ago, yet his name dominates the covers of new books written by others. Paul Janson, a character from Ludlum’s own The Janson Directive, is brought to life again by Garrison. African intrigue with rebels and pirates. The idea seems to be that you are getting a whiff of the legendary thriller writer Ludlum, and this novel, by association, is a cut above the others on the marketplace. A new Bourne book written by Lustbader is coming soon, as well. I have to believe people know what they are buying and these Ludlum-branded books penned by others seem to be popular.

Henshaw, Mark. Red Cell.
China plans an invasion of Taiwan. The US enters the action and China unleashes a secret weapon. Henshaw is a CIA analyst.

Johansen, Iris. What Doesn’t Kill You.
Gorgeous CIA agent Catherine Ling must find the master herbalist who created the world’s most deadly poison. A rare female author on the list.

Pavone, Chris. The Expats.
Kate Moore is a working mom, a former covert CIA agent, and now an expat in Europe, her husband having taken a job in Luxembourg. Are her neighbors what they appear? And what about hubby? Wildly positive reviews, even from Kirkus.

Steinhauer, Olen. An American Spy.
CIA agent Milo Weaver is in the middle of Chinese intrigue. Vengeance is planned against a Chinese spymaster who crippled Weaver’s Tourism Department in Steinhauer’s previous book. The third installment of a trilogy. Steinhauer is highly-regarded for a spy novelist, even the NY Times deigns to review this guy.

Read The Best Spy Fiction of 2011

Read The Best Spy Fiction of 2010