Alma Katsu's Spy Books:

Red Widow

Review by Ann Whetstone

Fictional spy stories about women have a tendency to be both sensational and sexist. Fortunately, Alma Katsu's two novels featuring Lindsey Duncan are neither. They are merely first-class spy stories.

While Katsu, a 35-year veteran of various U.S. intelligence agencies, does not deny the presence of sexist views in some agency personnel, it is simply one of many factors that internal opponents use against each other. As in any office environment, people want to protect their status against competitors (or potential competitors since spies need to be forward thinking).

In her first Lindsey Duncan book, Red Widow, the problem is that Russian assets are disappearing and it's not clear why. The obvious answer is a traitor within the Russia Division. Since Duncan is known as "the human lie detector," she's assigned to find the person. And she's very motivated since she made a serious mistake in her last assignment.

In Red London, she's tasked with finding out if the British wife of a Russian oligarch might have some useful information about his activities and those of an important Russian suspected of being a malign influence on Putin. Her "serious mistake" in Beirut is assigned to help her deal with her case--to her dismay.

It's comforting to think that there are likely to be more in the series. Lucky us.


Spying: From the Fall of Jericho to the Fall of the Wall, by John D. Woodward, Jr., and published by Waynesburg University Press in 2023.

John D. Woodward, Jr. Professor Woodward is a retired Central Intelligence Agency operations officer and former U.S. Department of Defense official, with a wealth of experience in overseas assignments, war zone service, and as a senior analyst for the RAND Corporation.

The Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA, Liza Mundy, (2023)

Review by Ann Whetstone

This book will doubtless revive memories of many--some good, some bad. Some pro, some con. And for those who didn't live through this period, at a minimum it provides an outline and an overview that can be filled in with further reading.