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The Faithful Spy | [Alex Berenson]

The Faithful Spy

John Wells is the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Thanks to Robertson Dean's menacing narration, this gripping, thinking-person's thriller about a CIA operative deep undercover in al Qaeda is frighteningly real. Once you start listening, you'll find yourself sitting in the driveway with the engine still running. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

John Wells is the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover.

Now, on the orders of Omar Khadri, the malicious mastermind plotting more al Qaeda strikes on America, Wells is coming home. Neither Khadri nor Jennifer Exley, Wells' superior at Langley, knows quite what to expect.

For Wells has changed during his years in the mountains. He has become a Muslim. He finds the United States decadent and shallow. Yet he hates al Qaeda and the way it uses Islam to justify its murderous assaults on innocents. He is a man alone, and the CIA, still reeling from its failure to predict 9/11 or find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, does not know whether to trust him. Among his handlers at Langley, only Exley believes in him, and even she sometimes wonders. And so the agency freezes Wells out, preferring to rely on high-tech means for gathering intelligence.

But as that strategy fails and Khadri moves closer to unleashing the most devastating terrorist attack in history, Wells and Exley must somehow find a way to stop him, with or without the government's consent.

From secret American military bases where suspects are held and "interrogated" to basement laboratories where al Qaeda's scientists grow the deadliest of biological weapons, The Faithful Spy is a riveting and cautionary tale, as affecting in its personal stories as it is sophisticated in its political details. The first spy thriller to grapple squarely with the complexities and terrors of today's world, this is a uniquely exciting and unnerving novel by an author who truly knows his territory.

©2006 Alex Berenson; (P)2006 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

  • Mystery Writers of America 2007 Edgar Award, Best First Novel by an American Author

"Graphic and chillingly real." (Publishers Weekly)
"One could hardly ask for a more skillful, timely, and well-rounded translation of our worst fears into satisfying thrills." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (2230 )
5 star
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4.1 (869 )
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Performance
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  •  
    GlennD2 Old Saybrook, CT United States 07-18-06
    GlennD2 Old Saybrook, CT United States 07-18-06 Listener Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Can't wait for author's next book"

    Detailed descriptions of the locations and actions conjure vivid pictures for the listener. Plot line and events are eminently believable. I walk while listening to books, and this had me putting in extra time - I didn't want to stop. A great lsten!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Appleton, WI, USA 07-16-06
    Laura Appleton, WI, USA 07-16-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    15
    2
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    0
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    "Loved it!"

    I normally don't read spy novels. But, now I can't wait to read another. This was so exciting and involving. Hope I didn't read the best and will be disappointed in others. Loved Wells and Exley!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vincent Chestnut Ridge, NY, USA 07-09-06
    Vincent Chestnut Ridge, NY, USA 07-09-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    50
    9
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    Overall
    "One battle in the war on terror"

    It kept my interest. One of the better stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Riva, MD, USA 07-04-06
    Steven Riva, MD, USA 07-04-06 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    19
    9
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    0
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    Overall
    "Fast Paced"

    This book was action packed and fast paced. It was well written and kept me entertained from beginning to end. It went by very quickly. I'm not 100% sure I agree with the narrator's choice of voice for certain of the characters, but it was fairly inconsequential. He did a solid narration job all-in-all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Anderson Dallas, TX 07-14-06
    Steven Anderson Dallas, TX 07-14-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
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    11
    9
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    "Every cliche in the book"

    Sorry to dog this one folks, but the author's over-description of detail left nothing for the reader to figure out. We actually found ourselves laughing aloud at the melodramatic spy genre clich?s. Pretty good narrator. Have fun if you buy this, but don't expect to be challenged.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 03-08-08
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 03-08-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    163
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    83
    42
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    23
    0
    Overall
    "Bad Plot, Bad Characters, Bad Narrator"

    What a waste. Not only does the main protagonist behave totally irrationally, but so do all the other characters.
    From the opening in Afganistan, the main character acts like a idiot trying to make contact with American forces and then asking to be shot to keep his cover.
    Later when he is interrogated by the CIA, no one behaves like a professional. And his love affair with a fellow CIA officer is absurd.
    Even the bad guys act like idiots with one of them killing his wife while he is supposed to be undercover.
    There is a slick piece of work on how the plague virus is transmitted across the border, but that's about it.
    Small details, such as the inability to cross security without an airline boarding pass, get lost in the author's mind.
    The resolution of the killing of the super-mastermind bad guy is so quick and anti-climactic, that I almost missed the whole thing. It was as if the author suddenly got tired of writing and wanted to go away for the weekend.
    Ordinarily the narrators for audio books are great, but this guy was worse than awful. His voice for the main character sounded like a truck driver with a bad cough. Nothing fitting for a smart CIA agent. Fortunately the protagonist didn't speak much or I would have ripped the headphones off my ears in pain.
    And the love interest woman's voice was an awful high-pitched whine that made the character seem like a 9 year old who is intellectually challenged. Again, not the right sound for the woman.
    I'm so glad the book is over. I need to flush my brain of the narrator's voice.beta inappVoteInfo

    4 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Schnebly Boise 10-11-12
    Connie Schnebly Boise 10-11-12 Member Since 2009

    You are the sum of what you read!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
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    226
    30
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    10
    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "A very ineffective 'Faithful Spy'"
    What disappointed you about The Faithful Spy?

    He never seemed to know what his mission actually was, and he certainly never discovered anything that we would expect for someone in his position. He seemed to be filled with angst and there was too much 'internal dialogue' that did not move the story along.


    What could Alex Berenson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    have his faithful spy be proactive about his job as a spy. He never did anything except follow his group of terrorists and did not report their activity to the CIA.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Robertson Dean?

    George Guidall


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Portland, OR, United States 09-19-11
    Thomas Portland, OR, United States 09-19-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A rotten book"

    The book is poorly written and poorly read. I hung on until the end thinking that the book had to have some redeeming feature. I was wrong. I love spy and espionage novels that are clever and suspenseful. This book had glimpses of cleverness, but they were few and far between. What appeal the characters had, was destroyed by the reader, who seemed to have a sneer on his face throughout. Don't waste your time.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M. Sonntag Norfolk, VA 05-01-10
    John M. Sonntag Norfolk, VA 05-01-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    1
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    Overall
    "Interesting, Enjoyable"

    This book was captivating and the narration was good. I miss having the story to return to. Some interesting stuff about terrorism, but not a huge amount.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. stone boulder creek, ca 07-05-08
    G. stone boulder creek, ca 07-05-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    309
    ratings
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    409
    42
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    Overall
    "3.5 stars"

    I liked this book okay, it moved along and was entertaining. But it's way overpraised in my opinion. I wish the story was more developed in the middle east, because it started off strong there. I think a lot could have been edited in the "middle", as not much really happened for hours, nor were the characters made more interesting--they were what they were. The end was not bad, I was actually expecting it to bomb, but it impressed. If there is an abridged version I would recommend that.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 121-130 of 132 results PREVIOUS1121314NEXT
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  • Marielouise
    Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    9/4/08
    Overall
    "Stunning. Best spy/thriller have heard"

    An absolutely brilliant audiobook. Totally believable. Characterisation rich - author gives a balanced view of both sides of this conflict through his characters - even the lesser characters are very believable, plot completely gripping, and yet I didn't want it to end.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Gary
    sandy, beds, United Kingdom
    2/4/08
    Overall
    "The Faithful Spy"

    Best audio book I have herd so far out of 20 similar books.
    Couldn't stop listening !!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Anna
    London, London, United Kingdom
    4/6/08
    Overall
    "A step beyond an average thriller."

    This novel grips from page one and is an intelligent and skillfully written account of the inherent conlicts within modern day espionage. The author takes a huge step beyond a good yarn and tackles the complex and lonely existence of a government agent who goes deep undercover for a protracted period of time. His hero stradles two worlds belonging and yet not belonging to either.
    This is a challenging and fascinating listen enhanced by a splendid reading by Robertson Dean.
    Highly recommended for the thriller fan.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Nick
    Ilkeston, Derbyshire, United Kingdom
    3/4/09
    Overall
    "A good read"

    I really enjoyed this book, very plausible and well read, the best audiobook I have listened to yet.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dr. Laurence G. Measey
    Portsmouth, UK
    2/28/13
    Overall
    "A good, intelligent, modern spy thriller"

    Undercover agents have to learn their biographies so well that it becomes their number on operating story. Well does this so well that over the years he becomes his new self with understandable doubts as to the morality of his own country, America. It is, however, the same moral perspective that convinces him to accomplish his mission. Well written with some fine tense moments, neat twists and the menace of real danger. Not to be missed as this is the first spy story from a major writer of modern thrillers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Shaun
    Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
    1/10/07
    Overall
    "GRIPPING........."

    Well written, well researched and well told.
    The author was (or still is??) a jounalist and I think it is clearly evident in this well researched book. The characters and plot are completely beliveable and it doesn't take long to get completely immersed in both.
    Definitely the most exciting book I've read (listened to!!) for a long time. This should be further up the list of top sellers - read it - you won't be dissapointed.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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