There is a mole in the CIA, leaking secrets of America’s quantum computer research to the Chinese. Harris Cheng, a CIA agent is a third generation Chinese-American with an exemplary military record, including time in Iraq. He is under suspicion because of his Chinese background. He is angered. What does he have to do to prove his loyalty to the US? But that suspicion may be justified, because of his unexpected reaction – unexpected to himself as well as others - when high level Chinese agents do in fact appeal to his ancestry. He is put under pressure by his boss, Chris Vendel, an American spy master. Cheng is a complex character with divided loyalties, the staple of many a good spy novel.
This well written story includes a grab bag of current topical issues – quantum computing, Chinese - American rivalry, identity politics - and Mr Ignatius writes well. The characters of Vendel and Cheng are well drawn, and the dialog is particularly well written. Unfortunately, the other main character – the deep mole inside the CIA, seemed to me rather weak, and the motivations for treachery are juvenile and lacking the depth that such actions would require, at least in a novel. I also thought that the quantum computer technology should have been a stronger part of the story. Great technology driven stories – say Firefox, or The Hunt for Red October – have the technology as a living character in the story. The quantum computer does play a role at the end of this story, but it performs rather the function of a very quick image searcher, rather than anything revolutionary. But perhaps this is what the author intended – maybe all the hype of quantum computers will peter out, and they will be just a somewhat better computer, rather than something which will change the world.
Overall a solid, topical spy story, well worth reading.
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (17 November 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393254151
- ISBN-13: 978-0393254150
- Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 612 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)