Intelligence: A Novel of the CIA by Susan Hasler

Intelligence: A Novel of the CIA

Takeaway: A very realistic portrayal of the pressures of the intelligence services, from an author that did the actual work she writes about.

Purchase Links: HardbackKindle FormatAudio from

I do not read a ton of fiction. But I seem to be drawn to political and spy fiction.  Political and spy fiction matches the slight cynisim that I usually feel about government, while still beliving that there is something better that can be done.

Susan Hasler is a new author that writes about the intellegence community with a reality that the James Bond world cannot approach.  Part of her writing has to come from her real life job as a former CIA counter-terrorism analyst.  There is a real sense of the weight of the work of preventing the next big attack.

The weight is countered by humor and life like characters that you just know have some real life inspiration.

In Intelligence, Maddy James, a counter terrorism analyst is sure that the next big attack is coming, and soon.  The problem is trying to work within the bureaucratic maze that is more interested in preventing the last attack or molding the intelligence to fit into the next political policy move.  Intelligence is set in a post 9/11 world of about now.  The US has invaded Iraq and it did not go well.  Maddy is able to assemble a team to focus on the threat, but id given almost none of the resources that she needs.  Is there really a threat?  Can a group of mis-fit analysts actually figure it out before an attack?

The story is told in first person from a number of characters, almost comic book like.  This is more intelligence desk work than Bourne style field work.  But it is still exciting and fast paced.  The characters of this book still have spouses and kids and medical problems.  It is not superhero, it is regular desk job, work 7 days a week 12 hours a day style work.  In the end, I think the story wraps up a bit too neatly.  But getting there is a very enjoyable ride.

I listened to the book in audio format.  There was a full cast of characters which fit nicely with the first person format.

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