Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson has made himself a valuable source of dissent from the party line of the public health establishment in connection with COVID-19. In 2010 Berenson left the Times to pursue a successful career as an author of espionage thrillers. In recent appearances on Fox News, he has mentioned that the previously friendly mainstream media have turned a blind eye to his new novel, The Power Couple. Tom Nolan’s weekly round-up of mysteries in the February 20 Review section of the Wall Street Journal took up the new novel:
Alex Berenson’s “The Power Couple” (Simon & Schuster, 421 pages, $28) features Rebecca and Brian Unsworth; she heads the FBI’s Russia counterintelligence desk, he’s a coder for the NSA. The demands of Rebecca’s high-pressure job have lately taken a toll on her husband and two teenage children: “Her workday left her barely enough time to be a mother or a wife.” Brian feels he’s become a mere supporting player in the movie of his wife’s life: “the spouse who shows up in a couple of scenes to humanize the lead character.”
But wife and husband are united in common cause when their 19-year-old daughter Kira is abducted in Barcelona during a family vacation. Rebecca pulls strings to get assistance from FBI contacts, and local authorities also help out. Was Kira grabbed at random or targeted because of her parents’ work? Mr. Berenson, a veteran storyteller, succeeds quickly in getting the reader to care about his main characters.
Then a pair of extended flashbacks tell the problematic story of the Unsworths’ marriage—first from Rebecca’s viewpoint, then Brian’s—turning the book sideways, from a kidnap procedural to a mystery of who’s the greater villain in this couple’s union. When the narrative returns to the hunt for Kira, it transforms again, into an unexpected spying chronicle. “The Power Couple,” rife with crime-busting subplots and energized by a teenage captive determined not to be a victim, is one of the most unpredictable thrillers in years.
I thought readers (like me) who have become post-pandemic Berenson fans might find the book of interest.