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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Margaret
  • Dublin, CA, United States
  • 12-14-09

Faithful Spy

Very good book, in the post 911 anti-terrorist genre. I am really into spy novels, and I am glad I found Alex Bereson. I have exhausted classic master such as John Le Carre, and read through all of Daniel Silva's books. Berenson's is pretty close. For the female spy novel fans, there is just enough romance and internal character emotional struggle to make it not 100% macho.

47 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Riveting and Timely

The reader does an excellent job with a good story line. This is one of those rare espionage books about Al Queda that is easy to follow, well read, with a main character that you learn to care about. I almost gave it 4 stars instead because there are a few scenarios that seem unlikely. However, when I ask myself how this book compares to the scores of other books I've listened to in this genre I have to admit I was thoroughly entertained. This book has less action and bravado than a Vince Flynn novel but is a smarter read. You will not be disappointed.

50 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • Lia
  • Sutton, Australia
  • 07-09-17

Enjoyable New Series

I just heard the fifth book came out so I decided I had better get on board and start listening with this one.
Immediately the book draws you into the story wanting to see what happens to characters you don't even know yet. John Wells is so deep undercover neither side in the War on Terror trusts him.
Berenson quickly establishes Wells' isolation and drive. He's sent back into the US by al qaeda's #2, zawahiri, with an unknown objective.
I found it very interesting to see America through Wells' eyes after he's been in Afghanistan and Pakistan for several years as the extravagant wealth assaults his senses. He struggles to be trusted by the CIA, who believe he may have turned, and isn't trusted by his al qaeda contacts inside the country. I found myself moving through the pages eagerly to find out if Wells ever gets the upper hand and stops the terrorists.
I was glad to see that the book's resolution doesn't miraculously end the War on Terror or destroy al qaedea or any pie-in-the-sky wrap up like that. My only issues was that the book ended very abruptly however I still enjoyed listening to this book very much and am planning on continuing in the series very soon.

Robertson Dean was excellent with the delivery of the story

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is a tremendously successful effort by this author. I found this novel spellbinding and could not put my iPod down until I had heard the entire book. Why are there not more of Berenson's novels on Audible???

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What a Ride!

My job commute was never so enthralling as I listened to The Faithful Spy. John is a strong and believable character due to the excellent reading by Robertson Dean. Mr. Dean brought the story alive and Alex Berenson can surely put together an intriguing spin on the current machinations of the Taliban and their minions. Thank you for the ride of a lifetime on my car stereo, you made traffic just disappear from my mind. Awesome job to both writer and reader!!

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 08-22-13

Great spy story

The book feels as if Alex Berenson took this right out of the daily news. John Wells is a deep spy who has worked his way up in al Qaeda. He has been under cover for years and this is beginning to take its' toil on him. He is sent to the U.S. to be ready for a strike against America. Is this to be a "dirty bomb", chemical or biological attack? The story suspense builds as he waits and is sent on trial missions to test his loyalty. Then every thing happens at a brake neck speed. Lots of suspense, action and a great ending to the story. Robertson Dean did a great job narrating the story. This was my first book by Alex Berenson but it won't be the last.

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 01-29-16

Great start to the John Wells series!

Alex Berenson writes superb espionage action thrillers. This 10 year old novel is among the very best of the John Wells series. The development of the Wells character is outstanding. Wells is absolutely unique among the espionage characters. He is likely closest Victor the Assassin by Tom Wood. Great read! This is the only book in the series not narrated by George Guidall, Dean is not as good as Guidall, but he does an excellent job.

I highly recommend The Faithful Spy and all other novels in the Wells series.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • Milford, DE, United States
  • 05-19-06

don't wait.. get this one

I'm half way through and I'M HOOKED. Having been a member for over 5 years, it's a pleasure to find something new. Exciting, interesting, well developed, quick alternate use of short-term characters keep the whole story alive. Don't wait for the movie.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Spy Character, Great Story

I was thrilled with this purchase. It is a uniquely thorough look at a veteran spy, the toll his work takes on him, and how his past allows him to react to the present. And he is no super hero either. Most of all it a terrific suspense novel.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I am amazed I actually listened to the entire book

I bought this book based on the reviews posted here, most of which praise the book from every aspect. I found the book to be very slow paced. The characters were not well developed, the story rambled through a confusings series of sub-plots. There was little detail of the workings of the CIA, FBI, or security services. Most annoying was the narrator, whose deep, husky, monotonous voice was soporific. He sounded like an old disk jockey who smoked too much. He did not bring any characterizations to the story, beyond raising the pitch of his voice a bit to indicate a female speaking. It was very difficult to get through this dull, lackluster presentation. I kept waiting for the part the reviews presented here descibed. They never came. I feel like the boy in 'The Emporor's New Clothes'. This book screams first novel, and the narrator was poor. You have been warned.

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Shaun
  • 01-10-07


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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  • Gary
  • 02-04-08

The Faithful Spy

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

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Marielouise
  • 09-04-08

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

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  • Anna
  • 04-06-08

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

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  • Nick
  • 03-04-09

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

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  • Dr. Laurence G. Measey
  • 02-28-13

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

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  • Jane
  • 06-23-17

Very Enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book and it was very different from the usual genre I listen too. I would highly recommend a listen. It's a shame that not all of the John Wells series is available on audible.

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  • Robert
  • 05-25-15

Good plot

Good compulsive plot with good ending good author with realistic story that is very credible

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  • Youngstuts
  • 04-24-15

First class modern spy story

A thoroughly enjoyable but eye opening story involving a deep cover spy, Pakistan, USA and Al Qaeda. Very well narrated. Highly recommended.

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  • Angela C
  • 03-20-15

US Agent inside El Queda grips to the end

What did you like most about The Faithful Spy?

Believability and excitement. Extremely interesting in its exploration of the psychology of deep cover agents and thought provoking in its depiction of the gulf dividing austere Islamic thinking from America's profligate consumer society and with an intelligence community riven by politics, but still trying to do the right thing.

What did you like best about this story?

The plot, the setting, the characters and a great climax.

Which character – as performed by Robertson Dean – was your favourite?

Hero, heroine, villain and Tariq, the little student chemist.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?


Any additional comments?

An intelligent spy story that builds and builds momentum. Highly, recommended.

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  • Mel M
  • 10-10-17

The coalition of the killing

This book is excellent for seeing the causel connection of leadership that acts on bogus Intel that results in terror of citizens.

it is also good for looking into the thoughts of others in the world due to the first Crusades of the Catholic Church.

This is an example of why we should learn the lessons of history and why it should be studied.

it's also a good thriller from start to end.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful