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The Faithful Spy: A Novel (John Wells Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

441 customer reviews

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Length: 352 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Debut novelist Berenson is given fine representation in this intriguing audio book. John Wells, an American CIA agent, has spent the last decade of his life successfully infiltrating the inner sanctums of al-Qaeda. Guilt-ridden over not having been able to stop the actions on September 11, he readily accepts the chance to return to the U.S. when he's recruited as one of the primary participants for an act of terrorism designed to bring the country to its knees. After being taken into custody by a suspicious CIA, Wells escapes and goes undercover on his own with the fervent hope that he can prevent whatever terrorism al-Qaeda is looking to unleash. Narrator Heffernan provides a rich, melodic voice for Berenson's novel. Helped by Tony Daniel's expert abridgment, Heffernan keeps the complicated story's expositional narrative moving with a clean journalistic detachment that enhances the growing suspense. Although he may stumble some when it comes to accents, Heffernan manages to make each character a distinct individual. Genre fans should relish this thinking man's thriller.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Two years after U.S. secret agent John Wells infiltrates al-Qaeda, the events of 9/11 call into question his usefulness, if not his loyalty, but he keeps his cover and bides his time, burrowing closer to Osama while sincerely converting to the one true faith of Islam as the years slip by. When al-Zawahiri sends him home at last, it is to serve some undetermined role in a major, multiphase offensive cleverly designed to strike terror in the American heart by unleashing conventional, biological, and nuclear attacks from coast to coast. Berenson works against the inherent sensationalism of his story with a diversity of viewpoints and deft character sketches that avoid oversimplifying the complex beliefs and strategies of his combatants. The plotting is superlative, baffling readers and characters alike as the mastermind behind al-Qaeda's sleeper network wages covert war against a vigilant and resourceful enemy. As with Thomas Harris' Black Sunday (1975) or Joseph Finder's Zero Hour (1996), one could hardly ask for a more skillful, timely, and well-rounded translation of our worst fears into satisfying thrills; a sure bet for fans of Jack Higgins and Vince Flynn. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 863 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0739326570
  • Publisher: Random House (April 25, 2006)
  • Publication Date: April 25, 2006
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000GCFG74
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,238 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

As a reporter for The New York Times, Alex Berenson has covered topics ranging from the occupation of Iraq to the flooding of New Orleans to the financial crimes of Bernie Madoff.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

150 of 169 people found the following review helpful By W. A. H. on May 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Phenomenal, addictive, heart-pounding, exciting, interest-grabbing, but not well-writ--okay, it's incredibly well-written too.

VERY well-written.

I won't go into the plot, because all that is written up above.

What I will say though, is that spy novels are not my usual reading. But this one I took a chance on. It was written the way books should be written. It grabs the reader by the throat on page one and steams along at a steady, confident, pace.

Vince Flynn didn't lie when he said this book will have you reading into the night. I've lost a lot of sleep reading this book that refused to let me put it down. Sleep I'll never get back.

And with this book, I didn't mind at all.

If you like the fast-past, constant plot-twisting of 24, then I strongly suggest you pick up this book.

Mr. Berenson's writing is incredible, and the insights of the main character John Wells of the country he left so long ago are all at once biting, and hard to argue with.

The terrorist network is well thought out, the way they operate is utterly believable, and their cunning is horrifying.

This book is the definition of money well-spent. As you're reading this, you'll feel like the third person in the room. You'll feel like you're living all of it. This book is amazing.

For an author's first book this is nothing short of impressive. Hell, for an author's fifth book it would be nothing short of impressive. It's fast, furious, and what any good book should be--a thrill ride.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on September 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
September 11, 2001 woke America up to facing perils we had previously consigned to other parts of the world and to fiction. Now, a novel like "The Faithful Spy" isn't merely a diversion, a beach thriller to quicken adrenaline for fun. Now, the situations that author Alex Berenson sets in motion and "detonates" one way or another don't float above us in dispassionate entertainment mode only. No, reading about the passengers on a transatlantic flight who suddenly sight military fighters pacing their airliner makes our stomachs clench with sympathetic anxiety and a "but for the grace of God, it might be my flight" thought. As least that was my reaction. And shadowing the title character to his cliffhanger meetings with al Queda members, high-level and low, filled me with cold dread because I don't imagine the real men who follow Bin Laden being much different. John Wells, "The Faithful Spy," and his one-time handler, Jennifer Exley, are people who must balance on a very narrow moral ledge (about matters such as when to "justify" torture and killing) in the name of national security and survival. Their dilemmas are ones that are not and should not be solely fictional. Berenson's reporting experience in Iraq and his understanding of the strategic struggle between the U.S. government and Islamic extremists lends this novel authenticity and valuable insight into our actual geopolitical situation.

"The Faithful Spy" isn't a perfect pulse-pounding novel; it contains certain intervals where the action lags or the plot doesn't coalesce as convincingly as a seasoned reader of this genre might prefer. However, the relatively minor flaws of pacing and storytelling don't diminish the clawing feeling that this book of "fiction" could portend tomorrow's real headlines. God (by any Name) forbid.

This is a remarkable first novel, and I will not miss whatever Berenson decides to write next.
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46 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Wolfgang Zernik on April 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Spy novels at their best can approach great literature. I can give as examples the work of John LeCarre (at least in his younger years) and a personal favorite of mine Alan Furst. But stories like these, set in the Cold War or World War II, deal with an enemy that to some degree at least we understand. Anyone who tries to write a spy novel about the war we are in now, against Islamist extemists, has a much more difficult task since we (at least most of us) do not at all understand our enemy. That is why presumably so few writers have so far attempted to write serious fiction about the current war. Alex Berenson has at least tried. Although this first novel is not completely successful he should be given some credit for his attempt.

The book is in two parts. Part I (The Homecoming King) is just wonderful. The basic idea is original if not easily believable. A CIA agent manages to infiltrate Al Quaeda and then quite sincerely becomes a Muslim without however losing his basic patriotism and loyalty to America. The result is that his CIA bosses no longer trust him while his Al Quaeda bosses do not completely trust him either. He is a man in danger of being lost between two worlds. This part of the book is subtle and nuanced. Berenson describes the psychology of the Islamist fanatics in a way that is credible and deep. I found it not only enjoyable to read but came away with a better understanding of today's headlines. Part I is a real page-turner as other reviewers have noted.

Part II (The Believers) is in comparison very disappointing. Berenson seems to have dropped his literary aspirations and decided to go for the big money and the movie rights. This part of the book, while still well-written, is a standard thriller complete with plot cliches and the required happy ending.
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