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Alex Berenson

The Counterfeit Agent

Alex Berenson The Counterfeit Agent
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Series:

A John Wells Novel

Biographical note:

As a reporter for The New York Times, Alex Berenson covered topics ranging from the occupation of Iraq to the flooding of New Orleans to the financial crimes of Bernie Madoff. His previous novels include The Faithful Spy, winner of a 2007 Edgar® Award, The Ghost War, The Silent Man, The Midnight House, The Secret Soldier, The Shadow Patrol, and The Night Ranger. He lives in Garrison, New York.

Excerpt from book:

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***

Copyright © 2014  by Alex Berenson

3

ISTANBUL

Brian Taylor stood by the window in room 1509 of the Inter-Continental Hotel in Istanbul, looking at the dark water of the Bosphorus down the hill to the east. In twelve years at the agency, he had never been so excited.

Taylor was the CIA’s deputy chief of station for Istanbul. His dream job, his dream city. He’d fallen for it backpacking across Europe at the end of the nineties. The last flash of American innocence, when taking a summer to drink cheap wine and run with the bulls still seemed adventurous. Taylor followed the usual route. He saw the sun rise over Montmartre, jumped off the rocks in Cinque Terre. He met his share of women. Always Americans. He never cracked European girls. Maybe if he hadn’t tried so hard . . . He had fun. Yet he felt he’d arrived a couple generations late. The cities were open-air museums. Even the beautiful couples walking along the Seine seemed to hold hands almost ironically. Like they were reenacting movies about Paris instead of living there.

Then he found Istanbul. Its history stretched millennia, and it was as picturesque as anyplace he’d ever seen. Its giant mosques loomed over the Bosphorus, the mile-wide waterway that separated Asia and Europe. Yet it wasn’t a museum. It teemed with life. Shopkeepers and students hustled along its hilly streets. Gleaming white yachts sped past packed ferries and rusted container ships. The Turks were hardworking and silver-tongued, loud and showy. Taylor had grown up in a stuffy town outside Boston. He liked them immediately. He even developed a soft spot for the devious shopkeepers in the Grand Bazaar. Those guys weren’t exactly trying to take advantage, he decided. They wanted to deal. They wanted drama. Any tourist who didn’t understand the game—which every guidebook explained in detail—deserved to be fleeced.

Taylor expected to be in the city three days. He stayed three weeks, flying home the afternoon before fall term started. He knew his sudden ardor was silly, but was falling for a city more absurd than falling for a woman? Both required a willingness to suspend disbelief. Anyway, now he had what every college student wanted. A goal, and a path to reach it. He would learn Turkish, move to Istanbul after graduation. Turkey had eighty million people and a fast-growing economy. Big companies needed Americans who spoke the language. And the University of Massachusetts shared an excellent Turkish program with other colleges around Amherst. He expected his parents to push back. They didn’t. Dad: It’ll make you a lot more hirable than a history degree. Mom: I always wanted to live somewhere exotic. Turkish was tough, but Taylor worked hard. By the start of senior year, he was nearly fluent.

Then al-Qaeda attacked the United States.

 

Like his friends, Taylor was terrified and enraged and wanted revenge. Unlike them, he could help. Turkey shared borders with Iraq and Iran. The FSB, Mossad, and Revolutionary Guard all ran major stations in Istanbu

“An intelligent thriller of the first order; an exciting, satisfying, and rewarding read.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[A] volcanic shocker.”—Library Journal

“Wells is a fine character who will likely propel Berenson’s thrillers to success for some time to come.”—Chicago Sun-Times


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