A Book Spy Review: ‘Red Swan’ by P.T. Deutermann


Set in today’s Washington, D.C., Doctor Preston Allender is forced to retire when an operation he oversaw damages relationships between the White House and China. 

A year prior, Allender recruited and molded Melanie Sloan, personally overseeing her training, which begins with an uncomfortable but very telling interview. Sloan’s role as a “red swan” is critical to the CIA infiltrating the Chinese government. Afterward, though, the Chinese aren’t willing to just let things go, and they set about plotting their revenge. 

A well-educated psychiatrist, Allender previously served as assistant deputy director for the entire Clandestine Service Directorate. Realizing his expertise is once again needed after a high-ranking member of the CIA is assassinated, Carson McGill, the current Deputy Director of Operations, pulls Allender back in from retirement to help find answers. 

Henry Wallace played an important role in the CIA successfully infiltrating China’s National Intelligence Service. Now he’s dead. McGill believes Wallace’s death is directly related to his previous work and wants proof, which is where Allender comes into play. 

Allender, whose amber-colored eyes burn with dragon-like intensity, is an expert interrogator. In fact, he’s broken so many men, calling out their lies and dishonesty with ease, that some within the intelligence community actually believe he can read minds. 

Either way, when he removes the tinted lenses he wears to conceal his striking eye color, people have a tendency to start talking. 

But as Allender starts digging into Wallace’s death, he discovers that the CIA’s own tricks may have been used against them, with China pulling off their own operation to infiltrate the world’s most prestigious spy agency. As the mole hunt gets underway, it’s spy vs. spy in this fascinating new thriller from P.T. Deutermann. 

Deutermann, who has twenty-six years of government service at sea and in Washington, really knows his stuff. The story itself is cunning and realistic, and the characters–especially Allender and Sloan–are well-written. The author does a fine job setting the scene, allowing readers to visualize the story as it plays out in cinematic fashion.

The book itself is split into two sections. The first half shows Sloan’s recruitment and training before taking readers on a ride-along through the mission. The second half deals with the aftermath, picking up a year later when Allender is called back into action. The whole thing comes in at just under three hundred pages, as Deutermann wastes no time on filler, serving up a satisfying main course that reads surprisingly fast. 

Red Swan is a spy fan’s spy thriller, period. Packed with authentic scenarios and tradecraft, P.T. Deutermann’s latest offering features a smart, well-developed plot that’ll keep readers guessing until the very end. 

Book Details

Author: P.T. Deutermann
Pages: 297 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 125011408X
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 22, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
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