Skip to main content

The Fall of Moscow Station


The Fall of Moscow Station

What turns a faithful agent into a traitor? What motivates an Aldrich Ames or a Robert Hanssen to commit espionage against his own nation, to turn his back on democracy, to sell critical and sensitive information that costs the lives of other agents? Sometimes the motivation is just money. Occasionally, the traitor may actually believe in the other side’s system, or be disillusioned with America’s leaders and policies. Can any of these actually justify treason?

Alden Maines is an effective CIA deputy chief of station in Venezuela. Against the direct orders of his superior, a political appointee who understands little about the covert work required by the South American country’s CIA outpost, Maines mounts a rescue operation for a compromised agent, Kyra Stryker. Maines and his team are successful; Stryker, though injured, is safely extracted from a situation that would have resulted in her certain death. Yet the night’s rescue unveils the identities of the CIA station itself, so the team is forced to retreat to the United States and to new assignments. But Maines isn’t quite sure now that the executives at Langley or the White House can be trusted with the lives of their agents.

"Henshaw’s experiences as an award-winning CIA analyst himself provide fascinating fodder for this exhilarating thriller."

Maines eventually makes a move to sell classified information to Russia. Yet he doesn’t realize that his offer to spy for money on his own country for the Russians isn’t quite going to turn out the way he expects. He sells his services to General-Major Arkady Lavrov of the GRU and imagines that regular payments for secrets will finance his future, as well as apply a little payback to those who weren’t worthy of his assistance. Lavrov, however, has another plan entirely.

In former East Germany, two ex-Soviet colleagues meet: General Stepan Strelnikov, and Lavrov, Maines’ new handler. Maines’ first secret for Lavrov is that Strelnikov has become a double agent for the CIA. The faithful Russian soldier has committed treason not for money or position, but because he has discovered that Lavrov is secretly selling powerful weapons to countries that lack the technology or materials to produce them for themselves. One of these countries poses a direct threat to Israel, the spiritual birthplace of Strelnikov’s Jewish grandfather. And Strelnikov attempts to put a stop to the potentially deadly transaction by sharing this sensitive information with the United States. But as the two Russians meet in a deserted German village once occupied by Soviets, Lavrov takes the life of Strelnikov, thanks to Maines’ information.

Maines has envisaged a long, fruitful relationship with Russia and Lavrov, in which he parcels out secret after secret to his new handlers. Lavrov destroys that dream when he informs the U.S. that Maines has defected to Russia. An Interpol watch is issued for the traitor, and his plans begin to crumble. Instead of receiving a financial windfall, Maines winds up delivering all his secrets under Russian torture. And agents serving the United States, whether they’re American CIA or Russian double agents, are compromised and endangered.

Stryker is horrified to discover that her former boss and rescuer has defected to Russia. As agents’ covers are blown, Stryker and CIA analyst Jonathan Burke are sent first to East Germany and then to Russia to retrieve Maines, stop the flow of information, and find out why a powerful GRU general would expose a traitor who was all too willing to share his secrets. What is Lavrov’s end game, and how can Stryker and Burke stop him before checkmate?

THE FALL OF MOSCOW STATION is the third in Mark Henshaw’s Red Cell series, yet is highly readable as a stand-alone title. Henshaw’s experiences as an award-winning CIA analyst himself provide fascinating fodder for this exhilarating thriller. Stryker and Burke’s dangerous assignment will captivate readers and then whet their appetites for the first two Red Cell books.

Reviewed by Melanie Reynolds on February 26, 2016

The Fall of Moscow Station
by Mark Henshaw

  • Publication Date: December 27, 2016
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501154583
  • ISBN-13: 9781501154584