If you love a novel that throws you a good curve ball, The Cover Wife by Dan Fesperman is an espionage thriller with a few red herrings and an interesting cast of characters. The CIA and the FBI are keeping secrets from their own agents, and each other. CIA agent Claire Saylor is a strong female protagonist who saves the day in her very first appearance. She is summoned to help with a mission led by maverick team leader Paul Bridger, with whom she shares a secret history. Her official role is to play the wife of Professor Winston Armitage, who has published a book about a controversial interpretation of the Quran. Her job is to protect him while touring in Hamburg. Her off the book mission is to report on a group of radicals who attend a nearby mosque.
Without informing the CIA, the FBI has also sent an agent to spy on the radical group. A somewhat comical character, Agent Donnelan is quickly discovered by Claire due to the flash of his camera. The two eventually decide to work together. This is advantageous, especially when the CIA decides it’s time to pull back their resources. Both Claire and Donnelan have noticed a newcomer to the mosque — Mahmoud, who is Moroccan. Through the mosque, he has befriended members from the radical group and is searching for their acceptance. They test him by asking him to complete specific tasks. The first task is relatively easy; however, he struggles when he is asked to eliminate the problem of Esme, the beautiful, sensitive, westernized wife of one of the members.
Suspense, mystery, action, a little bit of humor and strong characters make this novel a quick enjoyable read, or in my case, a good listening experience @libro.fm. The author read the book himself, and did a great job. If you like novels by Jack Higgins or Daniel Silva, this book could be a good fit for you.