Red Widow by Alma Katsu Red Widow by Alma Katsu
Narrator: Mozhan MarnĂ²
Published by Penguin Audio on March 23, 2021
Source: Purchased
Genres: Spy Thriller
Length: 10 hrs 10 mins
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
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three-half-stars

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....

I’m not sure that Red Widow is a spy thriller; it’s a spy novel, definitely, but it doesn’t have the excitement or suspense you expect from a thriller. It’s a smart book, but it’s more about reading reports, sifting through computer records, getting access to files than it is about chasing around the globe carrying a gun. I enjoyed it. It’s a game of cat and mouse and seeing through others’ deceptions. It’s also about loyalty, ethics, and the lengths people will go to save the ones they love.

We’ve got two intelligent women as our main characters. They are both strong and determined, but I was disappointed by how each woman’s life still revolved around men, whether that man be lover, boss, or husband.

The plot is engrossing. Lyndsay has to find her way through a tangle of lies and misdirections. The author does a good job at providing enough detail to make it feel real, but I think some things were a bit unlikely, that CIA agents are hopefully more careful than she allows them to be.

Overall, Red Widow was definitely a page-turner, but not action-packed. I enjoyed it, maybe in part because it’s been a while since I read a spy novel.

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