This top-notch thriller was a bit of a surprise to me. I knew it was a CIA-related story and not current day and had high reviews. I thought it was going to be yet another Cold War Soviet vs. The West story, a genre that I think is past its prime. Instead it turned out to be set in 1999 in Germany involving the West vs. Al Qaeda, not the Soviets.
The story had its share of exaggerations and dramatizations that render it inaccurate, but it has captured the look and feel of real operations against high-profile targets. As a retired FBI agent who worked counterintelligence for most of my career, I can attest to this. I was pleased to see the CIA and FBI agents working together, at least at the street level. The author resorted to the stale trope of inter-agency rivalry at the higher levels, which makes for drama but is totally unrealistic. Still, the story never lost the patina of credibility. The protagonist, Claire, is a bit too much of a TV version heroine – very good-looking, capable of taking down men in hand-to-hand combat, and so on, but there was very little of that. It was largely an accurate portrayal of what surveillance is like and all the things that can go wrong when the lines of communications are not good. It also tells the story from the viewpoint of a member of the Al Qaeda group being monitored. The suspense builds throughout on both sides of the line.