Paladin : A Spy Novel
by Ignatius, David

Set up to take the fall for an illegal covert ops mission targeting a hostile cyber intelligence organization, operations officer Michael Dunne emerges from a year in prison determined to bring justice to the CIA insiders who destroyed his life.

*Starred Review* Washington Post columnist Ignatius has written several top-notch spy thrillers, but his latest may be his most gripping yet. It combines a familiar genre trope-the agent as fall guy-used by le Carré and Olen Steinhauer, among others, with a plot that employs cutting-edge computer technology to display just how easy it has become to completely blur the line between illusion and reality. CIA officer Michael Dunne has been assigned to penetrate an Italian news organization run by a maverick American journalist and determine if it's just another misguidedly idealistic effort by smart kids who want to raise hell using computers, or if it's a front for an enemy intelligence operation. Turns it's neither, though the idealistic smart kids were involved at the start, using something called generative adversarial networks to create images that are undetectable as fakes. They were planning to use these deepfakes to take down the world's bad guys, but now the technology is in the hands of greedheads planning to make billions by disrupting world financial markets a decimal point at a time. Dunne is on the trail of the conspiracy when his cover is blown, and he lands in prison. He's out now and looking for the man who set him up. Love it for it's old-school suspense or for its ultramodern vision of technology run amok, but love it you will. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

CIA tech specialist Michael Dunne returns to the scene of a crime he didn't commit, seeking revenge after wrongly serving a year in prison. In 2016, Dunne was given the ultrasecret assignment of penetrating Fallen Empire, a leftist WikiLeaks-like operation that may be linked to the Russians. When the FBI arrests him for running a spy operation against American journalists—really Fallen Empire operatives working under that guise—the CIA abandons him, letting him take the fall. He's also abandoned by his beautiful and pregnant wife, who doesn't take kindly to compromising photos of her husband with a young Swiss beauty, even if it was a setup. After his release from prison, Dunne returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh, where he puts together a private cyberconsulting outfit. Against everyone's advice, he jumps back into the fray to track down those who betrayed him. Ultimately, he must race against time to prevent a hacking plot from wreaking havoc on world financial systems. Dunne is not the most consistent hero. Known by his colleagues as "the iceman" for his cool under pressure, he is anything but cuc umberlike after his arrest. "I did nothing wrong!" he whines, over and over. And Ignatius (The Quantum Spy, 2017, etc.), who, for an esteemed journalist, is quick to dump on reporters, substitutes a quick fade-out (perhaps with a sequel in mind) for a satisfying climax. But for the most part, the book does a nice job of sustaining its slow-boil suspense. Lifted by nifty surveillance schemes, the plot hums. A solid, low-key spy thriller by a veteran of the form. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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