The Handler

Mysterious Book Report No. 491

by John Dwaine McKenna

The Handler, (Penguin Random House, $27.00, 448 pages, ISBN  978-0-5934-4163-3), by M.P. Woodward, is written by a debut author whose real-life experiences as a Naval Intelligence Officer working with U.S. Special Forces, CIA and NSA clandestine operations through-out the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Far East, makes Mr. Woodward exquisitely well qualified to write about the covert doings which are being carried out all over the world in furtherance of U.S. foreign policy.

The novel begins when a mole, code named Cerberus, five years incommunicado, anonymous, and working somewhere deep inside the Iran uranium enrichment program, reaches out and tries to contact his old handler, a man named John Dale . . . a former spy who’s since been drummed out of the CIA in disgrace . . . a man Cerberus knows only as “Reza.”  Cerberus seems ready to defect, but the only person he trusts enough to deal with, is John “Reza” Dale, whose ex-wife Meredith, is now the head of the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division, is given the unenviable job of trying to coax him out of his forced retirement.  Dale is reluctant and bitter, feeling it was a superior’s incompetence and malfeasance that got him axed in disgrace—and it’s only after a botched murder attempt by a Russian Special Forces hit team at his remote northwest mountain home that he agrees to be reactivated.  Thereafter, the novel continues from several points-of-view, including a beautiful female Russian agent and assassin, a lieutenant colonel with the Iranian Quds forces: a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Cerberus himself, among others.  Conflicts come fast and furious as Dale tries to shake off the rust, extract the beleaguered Iranian scientist, elude the Russians and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards . . . stay alive long enough to tell the tale . . . and maybe even exonerate himself in the process.  This is an electrifying and edge-of-the-seat nail-biter in which the action never stops and the twists just keep on coming!!


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