The Fall of Moscow Station begins with a flashback scene. Alden Maines is shown saving the life of CIA Agent Kyra Stryker, but in order to do so he chooses to disobey direct orders from Sam Rigdon, his boss. Maines carries the anger and confusion he’s left with when his actions are condemned, rather than praised, and those feelings intensify over time.
Apparently, according to the CIA, obeying orders is more important than saving the life of a fellow agent. Maines doesn’t agree with this ideology, and as a result begins questioning all that he stood for, including love for country. Later, after he’s assigned to the Berlin station, Maines decides to betray his country and goes to a Russian named Arkady Lavrov.
In the present day, Maines devises a plan to sell top secret information to Lavrov for large sums of money. Unfortunately for him, his dreams of living in luxury and tasting the finer things in life–payment for betraying his nation–don’t turn out to be a reality. Oh, the Russians want the information alright, but they aren’t willing to pay for it.
What Maines didn’t know prior to his decision to commit treason, was that Lavrov recently found himself in hot water after one of his close friends betrayed Russia and gave information to the CIA. That caused a delay in a weapons deal that Lavrov had agreed to with the Syrians, who were now worried that the Russians might have additional moles in their operation. Until Lavrov can clean house, the deal is put on hold.
When Maines shows up, the timing couldn’t be any better for Lavrov. Instead of paying the CIA agent to betray his nation, he announces to the world that Maines has defected to his country. Lavrov then has Maines brutally beaten until he is willing to talk for free–specifically about which Russians are double agents.
Not long after Lavrov’s announcement, a body is found floating around in a lake near Berlin. Identified by his tattoos, the CIA recognizes the dead man as one of the Russian agents they were able to flip and were currently using as an informant. The CIA puts two and two together, realizing that the information had to of come from Maines, and launches an operation to have him rescued before he can name any other agents.
Kyra Stryker and her partner Jon Burke are sent to warn the remaining Russian double agents and to find Maines. With no backup or cover, the two must work quickly and carefully before it’s too late. Of course, things start going wrong almost immediately and Stryker finds out there’s much more at stake than she or the CIA originally thought.
I found this book to be wildly entertaining, and better than I thought it would be going into it. It’s written from the unique perspective of Mark E. Henshaw, who worked for the CIA as an analyst for more than sixteen years. Henshaw knows his stuff when it comes to how these types of clandestine operations are run, and he’s able to provide an accurate glimpse inside the world of the Central Intelligence Agency, which very few people have any first-hand knowledge about.
Though the plot was executed well, there were times I didn’t feel very connected to the characters. This is the third book in the Kyra Stryker and Jonathan Burke series, and if you haven’t read the other novels, you’ll likely close this book feeling like you still don’t know for sure who these people are. I’d like to see them further developed down the road. The pacing, on the other hand, is spectacular. The story keeps moving, oftentimes at the speed of a rocket, which is exactly how a thriller should read.
If you like Mattew Reilly’s Shane Schofield series or Jason Matthew’s Nathaniel Nash series, you’ll love this book. Henshaw writes with the style of Tom Clancy and the action of Robert Ludlum, and The Fall of Moscow Station proves that Mark Henshaw is a name to watch moving forward.
Side note: I really like the cover for this book, and was surprised that it actually has some texture to it. You’ll notice it right away if you buy the book in hardcover. Just kind of a neat little thing to mention and make you aware of!
Author: Mark E. Henshaw
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Release Date: February 16, 2016. (Order now!)