Intelligence: A Novel of the CIA by Susan Hasler
A 21-year veteran of the CIA, Hasler charts the day-to-day efforts of a team of counterterrorist analysts (aka alchemists) in a strong debut that puts most other thriller authors with similar backgrounds in the intelligence field to shame. Madeline James and her crew of brilliant misfits struggle to piece together shreds of evidence gleaned from mountains of raw data (slag) in a race to uncover a plot that threatens to dwarf the body count of 9/11. They must also battle a management structure bent on denying their findings so the current administration will have the ammunition needed to justify going to war with Iran. The parallels with recent history add to the credibility and suspense. Readers will be left aghast at the toll politics and basic self-serving, cover-your-ass government policies take on agencies and individuals whose job is to keep our country safe. Many will find Hasler’s female point-of-view a welcome change from the usual smash and bash male offering in the genre.