RED CELL by Mark Henshaw


By Mark Henshaw
Touchstone  $24.99

Publisher's synopsis:  

From the Tom Clancy for a new generation, a debut thriller following two CIA outcasts who must race to stop a secret Chinese weapon that threatens to provoke a world war After her first assignment in Venezuela goes disastrously awry, rookie case officer Kyra Stryker is brought back to Langley to work in the Red Cell, the CIA’s out-of-the-box think tank. There she’s paired with Jonathan Burke, a straitlaced analyst who has alienated his colleagues with his unorthodox methods and a knack for always being right, political consequences be damned. When a raid on Chinese spies in Taiwan ends in a shoot-out and the release of a deadly chemical, CIA director Kathy Cooke turns to the Red Cell to figure out why China is ready to invade the island nation without any fear of reprisal from the US Navy. Stryker and Burke’s only lead is the top CIA asset in China, code named Pioneer. But when Pioneer reports that Chinese security has him under surveillance, Stryker is offered a chance for redemption with a highly dangerous mission: extract Pioneer from China before he’s arrested and executed. The answers he holds could mean the difference between peace in the Pacific or another world war. From CIA headquarters to the White House to a Navy carrier in the South China Sea and the dark alleyways of Beijing, Red Cell takes readers on a whirlwind race against time as Stryker and Burke work to save Pioneer and discover the hidden threat to America’s power: China’s top-secret weapon. CIA analyst Mark Henshaw infuses expert knowledge of the intelligence world into a pulse-pounding plot to create a fascinating, authentic, and unforgettable read.

My thoughts:  

Let me ask a question...Mark Henshaw, did you write RED CELL just for me?  Because you must have already known exactly what I love in a thriller and what types of characters I want to read about and that I love attention to plot details, and authors that allow their characters to think a bit outside of the usual "character box of tricks."  So, I guess you don't have to answer my question, because I just did!  THANK YOU MARK!!

No kidding people, RED CELL opens with newbie officer Kyra Stryker along side the Guaire River in Venezuela, on a foot bridge, attempting to meet an asset. Then the worst thing that can happen to any agent happens. It's a trap and there's no one to help her.  WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT? 

Within the first five pages, to use a scary term, I became Mark Henshaw's biggest fan! 

RED CELL opens with action that keeps building as Kyra, severely wounded, makes her way to a "safe" house. Or is it?

Page after page after page Henshaw builds the tension and then gives the reader a bit of a rest. But, don't be fooled. Within the pages where normal actions and interactions of agency people, on all sides, take place, don't be fooled, don't skim a paragraph or skip a page. You never know where Henshaw has buried a detail that you'll need to know later.

Henshaw's written RED CELL rather like a ride on a great old roller coaster, he knows when to turn you on your side to bank a curve and when to let the action be calm for a bit, because you know you're about to dive head first on a free fall into a whole different arena.

I loved this book!  So much so that I don't want to tell you much more. Really, I don't need to tell you much more other than, go buy it. Download it. Whatever you like to do when you read.  But a word of warning, don't start RED CELL thinking that you'll just read a few pages to get started...not gonna happen. Too late. You're already hooked.

Boy howdy, I sure hope we see Stryker and her team again soon! Can you say "series"?  I hope so!

I give RED CELL a big old 5 out of 5 stars!

Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil has optioned this one, and I hope they've locked in Henshaw to work on the screenplay, he sure has the chops to produce a white-knuckle fantastic thriller of a screenplay.  Ill be first in line at the box office to buy a ticket.

* This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

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