The Fall of the Moscow Station by Mark Henshaw

The Fall of Moscow Station
Mark Henshaw

Touchstone (Simon & Schuster, Inc.) 2016

Mark Henshaw’s experience as a Central Intelligence Agency analyst and member of the CIA’s “Red Cell” think tank offers up informed insight into the inner workings of the spy game between the United States and Russia in his novel, “The Fall of Moscow Station.” 

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“. . . tension-filled, informative and timely . . .”

However, the storyline is weak when it comes to believability, though suspenseful enough to keep the reader engrossed.

Spy defector Alden Maines, angry because he was passed over for a promotion, offers Russia classified information, but his plan backfires when the ruthless Arkady Lavrov, head of  Russia’s Intelligence Service (GRU) takes Maines hostage and brutally extracts from him the names of Russians who are spying for the United States.

Meanwhile, CIA agents and analysts Jonathan Burke and Kyra Stryker set off to Berlin to investigate the killing of a double agent whose death coincides with Maines’ defection. They discover Lavrov’s plan is to sell electromagnetic pulse weapons to Syria. GRU agents shoot and capture the wounded Burke, and he and Maines are hauled off to Russia. Then Stryker, the novel’s hero, heads to Russia without backup assistance to rescue her partner and save as many Russian double agents as possible.

Difficult to believe is Stryker’s ability to outmaneuver the Russian police and military in their own country, especially since she’s unable read or speak Russian. She escapes a shootout in a thrilling car chase, even though she can’t read street signs written in the Cyrillic alphabet. But she is a “thinker,” and as a member of the “Red Cell,” a group of analysts who develop scenarios on how the enemy would react, she crafts a complex rescue plan.    

Despite its flaws, the novel is tension-filled, informative and timely, because Henshaw provides fact-based insight into Russian intelligence and wraps his narrative around modern-day issues.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla