CIA analyst Henshaw’s assured debut, an exciting espionage thriller, puts him solidly in the ranks of the top writers of the genre. Henshaw deftly weaves together all the major and minor players—the U.S., Chinese, and Taiwanese governments; the spies who provide information; and the analysts who turn that information into intelligence. The masterfully handled battle at the end is worthy of Tom Clancy.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Red Cell is as smart as it is exciting, a thriller that makes you think from the edge of your seat. Mark Henshaw’s unique perspective from the inside makes it all feel terrifyingly real.” —Howard Gordon, co-creator of Homeland and author of Hard Target
“Mark Henshaw is the real deal and he delivers big-time in his debut novel Red Cell. Only a decorated CIA analyst like Henshaw could take you this deep into the psyche of CIA operatives—and even deeper into one of the most dangerous and imminent geopolitical flashpoints of our times. If the events Henshaw plays out on the pages of his novel have not already taken place in secret, they may well play out in public sooner rather than later. Mr. President, this intelligence briefing is worth your special attention.” —Thomas Greanias, New York Times bestselling author of Dominus Dei
“Mark Henshaw clearly knows the terrain, from the geopolitical to the tradecraft in the shadows. I'm surprised this made it past the CIA censors. A rock solid thriller as plausible as tomorrow's headlines.” —Brad Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of One Rough Man and All Necessary Force
“If you’re looking for a great, authentic and thrilling story, look no further. Lock the door and turn off the phone, because you’re going on a journey only a gifted insider like Mark Henshaw could take you on. This author is a rare double threat—a man with the knowledge and access few have, and the rare talent as a writer to bring it to life. If you want to learn how things really work when it hits the fan, you can apply for a job at the CIA or read Mark’s book.” —David Ayer, screenwriter of Training Day and S.W.A.T.
Drawing on his experience working in the CIA's Red Cell think tank (created two days after 9/11), Henshaw has crafted an intriguing debut political/military thriller. A disastrous mission in Venezuela brings Kyra Stryker back home. She is given an assignment in the Red Cell program that she considers a demotion. Forced to work with Jonathan Burke, an analyst with questionable methods and attitude, Kyra quickly learns the job is vital to national security. Taiwan and China are at odds, and the United States is ready to intervene. VERDICT Burke's character is a bit enigmatic, but Kyra's quest for redemption amid a potential World War III scenario proves compelling. The narrative's authentic details about spycraft will be irresistible to hard-core spy fiction aficionados, who will eagerly seek Henshaw's next dip into the CIA pool. [The novel has been optioned by Johnny Depp's production company—Ed.]
The Chinese are gearing up for a takeover of Taiwan, offering a scary vision of the future with the monstrous destruction of a Taiwanese naval base. It's up to CIA agent Kyra Stryker to retrieve a veteran undercover "asset" in Beijing who is now targeted by the Chinese and for U.S. Navy forces to stop China's secret military weapon before it stops them. For his first novel, former CIA analyst Henshaw draws upon his stint with the agency's Red Cell unit, formed by CIA director George Tenet two days after 9/11 as a source of alternative, unconventional intelligence. That's where Stryker lands after her first mission (in Venezuela) goes bad due to no fault of her own. Teamed with straight-shooting analyst Jonathan Burke under agreeable CIA director Kathryn Cooke, Stryker detects patterns of unrest involving Chinese spies in Taiwan and plans for re-unifying it with the mainland. What U.S. President Harry Stuart doesn't know in his hard-nosed exchanges with Chinese President Tian Kai is that the People's Liberation Army is in possession of Assassin's Mace, a weapon with frightening capabilities. Cutting back and forth among countries and locales, the novel turns up the tension, taking time to provide first-rate descriptions of scenery and technology. Stryker, a role in waiting for Keira Knightley, proves as good an action hero as intelligence gatherer. She takes a bullet to the arm and an elbow to the chops and keeps running. Pioneer is a classic burnout who has been under stress for so long he doesn't know who he's angry at anymore. The novel doesn't have the dimensions that distinguish the best spy thrillers--it has the feel of the pilot for an ongoing series. But it's a lean and efficient effort fueled by an infrequent quality: believability. In this deft novel of intelligence, the CIA actually shines.