RED WIDOW by Alma Katsu

From the publisher:

An exhilarating spy thriller written by an intelligence veteran about two women CIA agents whose paths become intertwined around a threat to the Russia Division–one that’s coming from inside the agency.

Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during an assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague–now Chief of the Russia Division–recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, where she was known as the “human lie detector” and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been exposed–including one of her own–and the CIA is convinced there’s a mole in the department. With years of work in question and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.

Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can’t avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous “Red Widow,” the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband’s legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she unearths a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it….


The very versatile Alma Katsu publishes another novel different than her previous works. This book deals with the American spy agency the CIA and like her other books, shows a good deal of research to go behind the scenes and realistically tell the story. Lyndsey Duncan, a longtime employee of the agency is returning to CIA headquarters in Washington from a field assignment with a cloud hanging over her head. Her sin was having an affair with a member of another intelligence agency: a man that worked for England’s MI5. She does expect to either be fired or find that her career is over with the CIA and being pigeonholed for her remaining years with the agency.     

Much to Lyndsey’s pleasant surprise she is asked by a former colleague, now the head of the Russian division, to handle an internal investigation. She was once stationed in Moscow and successfully “ran” a senior Russian official and her expertise is seen to be of use in the search. The investigation she is tasked with has to do with the unmasking of several assets in Russia giving rise to the logical supposition that there is a mole in the department.     

Lyndsey meets Theresa Warner whom she remembers from years ago and is currently working on situations for the Moscow division. Theresa’s husband, also a CIA employee was killed in the field several years ago under mysterious circumstances. The two form a friendship with Lyndsey finding that Theresa is somehow mixed up in the “mole” situation. The ingredients of the situation involving both women make for an interesting story and a satisfying read. 

4/2021 Paul Lane

RED WIDOW by Alma Katsu. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 23, 2021). ISBN: 978-05255394140. 352 pages.

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