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The Traitor
By Stephen Coonts

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The Traitor

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The Traitor
By Stephen Coonts
Large Print Edition
Center Point Large Print, 2006
ISBN: 1-58547-817-2
Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - October 24, 2006

Tommy Carmellini, a former thief turned hot-shot CIA agent, takes center stage in The Traitor, the latest offering by Stephen Coonts. In this quick paced espionage thriller, Carmellini, is tasked with the job of finding out why Henri Rodet, head of the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Exteriéure (DGSE), the French intelligence agency, is secretly funneling money to the Bank of Palestine. Working with Carmellini is his long time friend and mentor, Jake Grafton and his one-time girlfriend and computer expert, Sarah Houston. Recently called out of retirement and brought onboard as the Chief of the CIA's European Operations, it is Grafton who is responsible for Carmellini being assigned to this delicate operation.

The CIA was tipped off that 'something' out of the ordinary is going on after a French Intelligence officer dies on a flight to Jordan. As Carmellini and Grafton begin their investigation, they uncover an intricately tangled web that involves international terrorism and a convoluted power struggle in which the various European Union Intelligence Agencies are vying with each other for supremacy. To complicate the task, it seems at times as if the CIA is seen as an enemy, rather than as an ally of the European intelligence organizations. In addition, they uncover evidence that the French have infiltrate Al Queda (al Qaeda). Carmellini is sent in to find out if this is true, and to try to use the mole as an information source. Unfortunately, his cover is quickly blown and he is left with an untold number of bad guys chasing him and still a number of unanswered questions. Questions such as who is the mole? Who is his handler? What is really behind his insertion into Al Queda? Finding the truth will turn out to be much harder than either Carmellini or Grafton could ever imagine.

As they dig deeper into the various mysteries that are confronting them, Carmellini and Grafton find incontrovertible evidence that an attack is being planned against the 'West'. However, if they try to stop the attack, they will be revealing sensitive intelligence data that might set back the CIA's ability to combat terrorists in the future. Yet if they don't stop the attack, untold numbers could die. Their only hope is to find a way to stop the attack without revealing how they got the information that it was being planned - but how?

Throughout the pages of this book, you will meet old friends, such as Grafton's wife Callie and Sarah Houston a.k.a. Zelda Hudson, who has appeared in several Grafton books. This book also includes the requisite number gadgets, chase scenes, and fights, as well as enough red-herrings to keep the story popping. While Grafton has a major role in this novel, Coonts still manages to make Carmellini the main focus of the story. Coonts definitely seems to be shaping Carmellini into a character that can stand on his own. While I like Carmellini, and found this story highly entertaining, I hope that this does not mean that Coonts is planning to put Grafton into permanent retirement at some time in the future. The Traitor is a great addition to the Grafton / Carmellini series, and it makes for an exciting read. A must for all fans of espionage and suspense stories, and, of course, for all of Coonts' loyal fans.

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