The Agency by James Phelan

‘Walker had no idea what he was getting into.’

It’s 2005, and after 10 years in the Air Force special ops, Jed Walker has joined the CIA. This is his way of continuing to make a difference, by avoiding a desk job. Walker and the others who’ve passed their training to join the CIA are out having a celebratory drink when Walker is approached to undertake his first mission. Somehow, he thought it would take longer.

Walker is sent on his mission by Harold Richter, a CIA field operations legend. Walker is given an alias, and instructions to meet someone in New Orleans. He has no idea what the mission is.

From the beginning, things don’t work out as expected. But Jed Walker hooks up with Steph Mensch, a British agent who seems to know what is happening, and that it involves a super yacht full of Russians. But what is it that the Russians are trying to buy, and who is selling it to them? And so begins a high stakes, action-paced adventure as Walker and Mensch try to prevent the purchase and to work out just what is happening. Trust me: it’s complicated. The Russians aren’t the only bad guys on the scene and they are certainly not the only ones who would like Jed Walker to fail. Then Steph is kidnapped, and Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. How can Jed Walker possibly succeed?

‘You couldn’t make this stuff up.’

This is my first Jed Walker novel, but I’ll be reading more. For me this is near perfect escapist fiction: a fast-paced story, heroes who are almost superhuman, villains who are truly evil and an array of complicating factors. And I read it so fast that certain aspects I might otherwise quibble over are forgotten in my race to find out how it ends.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith