Book Review: Red Cell by Mark Henshaw

Red CellRed Cell
Mark Henshaw
Touchstone, May 2012
ISBN 978-1-4516-6193-4

This debut thriller pits the intelligence services and the military of the United States, Taiwan, and China against each other. Red Cell is full of secret agents, traitors, and politicians willing to go to any lengths to get what they want. There’s the cast of characters I expected to find in this type of tale with some extra goodies thrown into the mix.

After a botched mission in South America, case officer Kyra Stryker sees in her immediate future a vacation to recover both physically and to wonder whether she still will have a job afterward. However, she is called in by the CIA director who wants her to pair up with an analyst in a special section of the organization known as Red Cell. Jonathan Burke usually works alone and thinks outside the box but now he has a new partner in Stryker. The assignment: figure out what’s behind China’s increased hostility against Taiwan. Negotiations to bring Taiwan fully under China’s umbrella of control have fallen apart and the Red Menace is rattling more than swords. Burke and Stryker think the Communists have a secret weapon that could decimate America’s resistance to the takeover. The answer may lie in a mole working within China’s machinations with the code name Pioneer. However, when Pioneer finds himself in danger of being caught, Stryker and Burke are called in for the rescue. Time is of the essence for not only Pioneer and the CIA operatives, but for the growing conflict between China and America.

Red Cell is red hot! Bouncing from political offices in Washington to the mean and dangerous streets of Beijing to international waters where Navy ships await the word go, this book covers all the bases. Enough mystery that kept me guessing and enough tension that had me turning pages with eagerness. Stryker and Burke make an excellent pair that work well together. With his brains and her knack for squeaking out of potentially deadly situations, they provide the nucleus to a well written story which thriller writers should respect.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, April 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.