Black wolf A novel

Kathleen Kent, 1953-

Book - 2023

"It is 1990 when Melvina Donleavy arrives in Soviet Belarus on her first undercover mission with the CIA, alongside three fellow agents--none of whom know she is playing two roles. To the prying eyes of the KGB, she is merely a secretary; to her CIA minders, she is the only one who can stop the flow of nuclear weapons from the crumbling Soviet Union into the Middle East. For Mel has a secret; she is a 'super recognizer,' someone who never forgets a face. But no training could prep...are her for the reality of life undercover, and for the streets of Minsk, where women have been disappearing. Soviet law enforcement is firm: murder is a capitalist disease. But could a serial killer be at work? Especially if he knew no one was watching? As Mel searches for answers, she catches the eye of an entirely different kind of threat: the elusive and petrifying 'Black Wolf,' head of the KGB"--

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FICTION/Kent Kathleen
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1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Kent Kathleen (NEW SHELF) Due Jun 8, 2023
Spy fiction
Thrillers (Fiction)
Historical fiction
New York : Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company 2023.
First edition
Physical Description
389 pages ; 25 cm
Main Author
Kathleen Kent, 1953- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

It's 1990, and rookie CIA operative Melvina Donleavy's first mission takes her to Minsk on the eve of Belorussia's independence, where she's tasked with identifying rogue nuclear scientists suspected of covertly building weapons in the volatile Soviet states. Mel's rare skill--the ability to remember every face she's ever seen--is the agency's secret weapon. Cloaked by a CIA team posing as a group of economics experts, Mel finds that Minsk is more dangerous than their hosts at the technology ministry will admit. The Bratva mafia's foothold is growing, and women have been disappearing at a staggering rate for years. The authorities insist that a Belorussian serial killer is an impossibility, but the identical murders of two of Mel's potential informants says otherwise. Mel's determined inquiries about the killings draw the interest of Minsk's untouchable killer and its KGB boss, the terror-inducing "Black Wolf," as her covert mission isolates her from help. Tension builds quickly here, and Minsk's KGB-controlled streets, long hidden from Western visitors, create an atmosphere of dangerous alienation.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This intelligent, propulsive spy thriller from Edgar finalist Kent (the Betty Rhyzyk series) takes Melvina "Mel" Donleavy, a 26-year-old CIA agent on her first undercover mission, to Minsk, Soviet Belarus, a dangerous place in 1990 as Soviet control crumbles and the Byelorussian mafia gains increasing power. A "super recognizer," Mel has the uncanny ability to remember every face she sees. Mel's four-person team poses as a U.S. State Department group researching possible funding to the newly sovereign country. Their real task is to gather intel and assess new threats. Mel's been given her own top-secret assignment: to investigate rumors that Iran is negotiating a clandestine pact with Belorussia to secure nuclear weapons. She soon appears on the radar of Martin Kavalchuk (aka the Black Wolf), the head of the country's KGB. Meanwhile, women have been disappearing from the streets of Minsk, the work of a serial killer known as the Svisloch Strangler, and Mel winds up investigating the case. Kent draws on her own experience working for the U.S. Department of Defense to create an utterly convincing espionage novel full of tradecraft. Readers will eagerly await Mel's further adventures. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

Spies, nuclear scientists, and a serial killer collide in the twilight of the Soviet Union. It's 1990. As the Soviet Union crumbles, four CIA agents are sent to Belorussia, ostensibly to offer America's financial assistance to the newly independent country but in truth to evaluate the stability of the republic and to see who might be stepping into the power void. The youngest agent, Melvina Donleavy, has a more specific assignment still--to confirm whether three Iranian men are seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or uranium. Mel has a unique gift: She is able to recall the face of any person she has ever seen, and identify them, even within a crowd of hundreds. As the agents seek to make connections and uncover information in Belorussia, Mel keeps her own counsel, helped by an American expatriate scientist named William Cutler. After a young secretary Mel was attempting to befriend is found dead, the agents learn that women have been disappearing around the city. Mel, whose father was a cop, begins to suspect that there's a serial killer in action. When she crosses paths with the Black Wolf, KGB chief Martin Kavalchuk, Mel's life and the lives of her colleagues are soon in peril. To complete her mission, she will have to endure arrest, torture, and captivity--and the serial killer who has become obsessed with her. Kent's novel is based on real-life people and events in the gritty Belorussia of this era, and the characters and their experiences are well drawn and complex. At the same time, the story moves well; the tensions are high; the climax action-packed. Kent brings her gift for building strong and complex female characters, honed in the Betty Rhyzyk series, to Mel, who is younger, softer, and still just as much a survivor. A well-crafted spy novel married to a serial killer mystery equals lots of dark drama. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.