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Former CIA-analyst-turned-author Francine Mathews delivers the goods in this page-turning debut of a husband-and-wife agent team involved in a terrorist plot, one that results in the kidnapping of the American vice president and a threat to destabilize the entire European continent. Caroline Carmichael's husband, Eric, died when the terrorist group known as 30 April blew up a plane full of innocent travelers. Two years later a massive explosion in Germany's new capital city results in the capture of U.S. vice president Sophie Payne. A man who looks suspiciously like Eric is photographed leading the kidnappers. Caroline's colleagues in the intelligence community set her up to be the so-called cutout: the pawn whose invisible presence will conceal the risky contact between a man who may be a rogue agent and the handler who set him on his bloody path. Fans of the spy genre who've been languishing in the literary wasteland created by the death of the Evil Empire will be delighted with Mathews's nail-biting narrative, great pacing, and ability to create complex, multidimensional characters in this novel of revenge, betrayal, and global politics. Her secondary characters, especially Sophie Payne and the conflicted young son of the psychopath — who will sacrifice anyone who stands in his way, including his own child-are very well-drawn. But it's Caroline we hope to see again in a sequel to this suspenseful thriller.

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