Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Book Review: Red Cell

  Red Cell by Mark Henshaw is non-stop action, from the opening chapter to the final word. Rookie case officer, Kyra Stryker, after almost losing her life on an assignment in Venezuela, is brought back to Langley where she joins the CIA’s Red Cell and is paired up with analyst Jonathan Burke. That pairing takes Stryker and Burke from Langley to China to impending war in the South China Sea.

Red Cell is an intense, fast moving read that’ll keep you turning pages. Lives are on the line and war is rumbling like a dark cloud overhead. What makes Red Cell even more intense is knowing that the author, Mark Henshaw, knows what he’s writing about. Henshaw is a decorated CIA analyst and was awarded the Director of National Intelligence Galileo Award. And he is a former member of the CIA’s Red Cell think tank.

 But as much as the book is about Henshaw and Stryker, it is also about Red Cell’s undercover operative, called Pioneer, in the People’s Republic of China. At constant risk of life, he passes on information to his handlers, knowing that at any time he could be found out and killed by his own countrymen.

 There’s a lot of action in Red Cell, with time to catch your breath along the way. As the intensity built, though, I found myself reading faster, wanting to find out if Pioneer would survive as the MSS close in on him and if the U.S. warships in the South China Sea can win the air war and stop an invasion of Taiwan.



 Barnes and Noble 


 I give Red Cell by Mark Henshaw a rating of Hel-of-a-Story.
FTC Disclaimer: Red Cell was sent to the Heart of Texas chapter of Sisters in Crime by Shida Carr with Simon & Schuster. HoTSinC then sent it on to me to review. Getting the book for free did not influence my review. I agreed to review Red Cell because I’m a member of the group and a reviewer of books that I like. I decided to also review the book here on Straight From Hel. I only use the "Hel" rating system here and Red Cell deserved the branding of Hel-of-a-Story. Now, when I say "branding," I'm not talking about the kind of brand you would put on a Texas Longhorn. A Hel branding is sort of like one of those tattoos that you wake up in the morning and discover on your upper left arm. You're surprised. And a bit baffled. You wonder where it came from and when. And what is it? You check it out in the mirror, then realize that your right buttock is also hurting. Oh, hel.


  1. That review was so exciting that I found myself reading it faster and faster, whew!
    Oh, and Helen, sounds like you might have witnessed one my youthful excursions into the netherworld ... the kind my sainted mother warned me about.

  2. Great review, shall look out for that book.

  3. How odd Christopher. I think I knew you in elementary school.

  4. sounds like my kind of read - fast paced and exciting. Thanks for the review.

  5. Sounds like a great book. May have to suggest it to my book club.

  6. Good review - sounds like a must read. Your disclaimer wandered off into something that might be a verse in Margaritaville. Sounds like a story for future blog post!!!!

  7. Sounds like a fast-paced book!
    As always, your disclaimer rates a Hel-of-a-disclaimer branding of its own. :)


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