Testimonials

Praise for High Hand

With seamless writing and an absorbing account of international intrigue, the authors of High Hand prove to be three aces of the spy thriller genre. Everything about this illuminating first novel feels wholly authentic.”

—David Maraniss, Associate Editor, Washington Post, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Once in a Great City and First in His Class

As a journalist who has written about my father’s adventures as a CIA spy at the height of the Cold War, I can authoritatively say that the authors of High Hand totally grasp the complex craft of espionage and they have been able to turn that into an enthralling work of fiction that is high-voltage from the opening scene.”
—Serge F. Kovaleski, Culture & Arts Investigative Reporter, New York Times

A ripping yarn, told with verve and flair. Curtis J. James’s first novel is a spy thriller in the tradition of Graham Greene, bristling with authentic detail and dizzying plot twists. High Hand grabs you by the throat on the first page and doesn’t let go.”

—Joby Warrick, Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Triple Agent and Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS

A riveting read that vividly captures the unique culture and ethos of the US spy community.”

—John Rizzo, former CIA General Counsel and author of Company Man

High Hand is a brilliant, devious, and thoroughly riveting spy thriller. It grabs the reader from page one and absolutely will not let go. Highly recommended!”

—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of Predator One and Extinction Machine

If you watch Homeland or House of Cards, if you love Ian Fleming or John le Carré, this book will give you the fix—of covert ops, official intrigues, and split-second danger—you have been craving.”

—James Rosen, Chief Washington Correspondent, Fox News, and author of Cheney One on One

High Hand is a masterful political thriller, full of great characters performing noble and ignoble deeds in the wake of an attempted assassination of a presidential candidate. Reporter Frank Adams wants the truth, but the truth is costly, and ugly, for all. You won’t be able to put it down.”

—Nancy Barnes, Executive Editor, Houston Chronicle

Beyond the enormously thrilling plot and pace of Curtis J. James’s High Hand, the storyline’s richly detailed use of spy tradecraft is a delight to read for those of us in the business. Move over, Tom Clancy; make room for Curtis J. James.”

—Kevin Giblin, first Director, NATO Counterterrorism Office, and FBI senior counterterrorism investigator

Reminiscent of the best of Ken Follett and Tom Clancy, High Hand is a taut page-turner packed with great writing, meticulous detail, and a fascinating view of the dovetailed worlds of international diplomacy and espionage. Insider knowledge of journalism, post–Cold War Russia, and the Washington, DC, power game makes this an irresistible read.”

—Darryl McGrath, author of Flight Paths

High Hand is a thriller in which all the players are bluffing, but someone holds the killer card. It mixes the high stakes of a US presidential race with the calculation of Russian intrigue. It’s a whodunit enriched by who did it—a creative conspiracy of three very talented authors.”

—Ned Barnett, Editorial Page Editor, The (Raleigh) News & Observer

This fast-paced page-turner is an effortless delight to read. It provides a rare insider’s view into the interconnected worlds of journalism and diplomacy. Meaty and engaging.”

—Kirstin Downey, author of Isabella: The Warrior Queen

A compelling, gripping spy thriller that’s a must-read for all those who love the genre.”

—Clark Ervin, first Inspector General, US Department of Homeland Security, and founder of Aspen Security Forum

The explosive action in High Hand carries a powerful message for journalists and those who depend on them to expose corruption.”

—Keith Mestrich, President, Amalgamated Bank

High Hand is a well-paced, good read. The reporter dialogue rings especially true.”

—Hammad Jawdat, World Desk Editor, Wall Street Journal

From beginning to end, High Hand is a skillfully crafted thriller demonstrating the plausibility of many of its insights about the world of intelligence. It is bound to occupy a prominent place among notable works in its genre.”

—Tony Porcaro, former CIA analyst

Behind the throne of man lies a Machiavellian woman! Does reporter Frank Adams know his ex-wife, Lisa Hawkes, as well as he believes? And does her undercover role for the CIA reveal itself in time to save him?”

—Bridget Burke, former NATO senior security official

Spooksville at its best! Don’t wait for the movie. And be prepared to spend a couple of late nights with this gripping page-turner.”

—Kathleen Rest, Executive Director, Union of Concerned Scientists

A jam-packed tale of high adventure combining global politics and sharp-eyed journalism with heartfelt ethics and romance.”

—Christian McEwen, author of World Enough & Time

This fast-paced international conspiracy has engaging characters, a solid plot, and real-world implications for contemporary American politics. Explosive revelations keep you wondering who is behind the mayhem.”

—Jay Himmelstein, Chief Health Policy Strategist, University of Massachusetts Medical School

The profound experience and diverse expertise of the authors come together to create a uniquely elegant, thoughtful, riveting thriller that stays with the reader long after the last page is turned. The fun read mixes with troubling thoughts about the driving forces that mobilize some of the nation’s guardians.”

—Yosef Shiloh, PhD, Research Professor, Sackler School of Medicine, and Shoshi Shiloh, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Tel Aviv University

A fast-moving story and great read told with futuristic technology from the shadows of international politics and intrigue.”

—Phillip A. Sharp, Nobel Laureate, Physiology or Medicine

Journalist Frank Adams responds to a failed attempt to assassinate a US presidential candidate by going to Russia on a fact-finding mission for an article that could win him a Pulitzer Prize. Agent Lisa Hawkes, his former wife, working on feminine intuition and her CIA training, follows his every move to find the truth, which is so shocking that it cannot be published by traditional means. In this fast-moving thriller, Curtis J. James brings together political, business, and espionage characters who are so real, you wonder whether High Hand is fiction or nonfiction and whether its ultrahigh-tech world might really exist.”

—Andrea Pfeifer, CEO, AC Immune, Switzerland

This national-security thriller well resonates with practitioners and evokes nostalgic feelings as it navigates through familiar places and arranges an intriguing mosaic.”

—Steve Chan, former Special Advisor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and Chair of Cyber Analytics and Network/Relationship Science, Swansea University, Wales

The characters are clearly drawn. The story charges through our new world, where traditional lines—between journalism and espionage, between big business and secret government, between allies and adversaries—are all blurred. It is a great read.”

—John Radsan, founder of the National Security Forum, William Mitchell College of Law

A gripping, suspenseful mix of politics, journalism, business, and spy craft with enough twists and turns to keep the pages flying.”

—Gary Pruitt, President and CEO, The Associated Press

Great story, good plot—fast paced and gripping. High Hand keeps you navigating inside the changing and shadowy world of espionage. It brings back memories of real international intrigue.”

—John Lewis Jr., former FBI Assistant Director for National Security

A paranoid, high-tech mashup of The Manchurian Candidate and All the President’s Men, High Hand reads like a legacy journalist’s fever dream, garnished with enough Bondian twists to make 007’s heirs grin into their pomegranate martinis.”

—Larry Hackett, former Editor, People magazine

A fantastic read! A contemporary political thriller with all the good, the bad, and the ugly you would expect, but it all comes at you in ways you never imagined.”

—Paul Mattera, Senior Vice President, Liberty Mutual Insurance

High Hand is a page-turner with fast action and terrific internal conspiracies. Ominously but importantly, it reminds us that Russia is still a player in the Big Game.”

—Charles Levenstein, economist and policy analyst, University of Massachusetts

High Hand embraces the subtle world of modern high-tech espionage and political intrigue. The characters live high-profile lives, but they also operate in the dangerous, hidden multilayers of the international underworld where business and politics meet with explosive consequences. Agent Lisa Hawkes chillingly operates from the shadows, controlling assets and events while remaining almost invisible. Moving from one continent to the next, the action leaves a trail of imperiled contacts who once played poker together. This remarkable thriller builds to the point where you question the difference between reality and deception.”

—John Darbyshire, Senior Scientific Consultant, Iridessa Sarl, Switzerland

High Hand has it all: political intrigue, sex, betrayal, terrorism, and espionage—all wrapped around a love story that spans the modern world’s hot spots. A thriller not to be missed.”

—Anders Gyllenhaal, Vice President for News, The McClatchy Company

Lisa Hawkes is a compelling new hero! She works ‘in the dark’ for the CIA to save the life of her ex-husband, Frank Adams, a top investigative reporter.”

—Juleen Zierath, Chairwoman, Nobel Prize Committee for Physiology or Medicine

High Hand rings true, with authentic depictions of exotic but believable people, places, and events. The story brings together the complex, interconnected worlds of politics, journalism, international relations, and covert operations. The tension in these pages never lets you go.”

—Thomas M. Seamon, former Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department

High Hand was a perfect companion on recent international trips. It features an engaging espionage plot with keen insights into geopolitics and the frontiers of science, plus tense reminders about the complexities of current energy politics.”

—Jonathan M. Samet, Director, University of Southern California Institute for Global Health

A dazzling cast of characters interacting across an array of wonderfully sinister motivations and situations. It will appeal especially to techies and conspiracy lovers.”

—Robert B. Pirie, Jr., former US Assistant Secretary of Defense

High Hand, the debut novel by Curtis J. James, is a double-espionage thriller set within the complex web of US-Russian counterintelligence, examining relationships both personal and professional that have been building since the Cold War. In Los Angeles, somebody tries to off Senator Stuart Roberts, the favored GOP candidate for president, as he delivers his stump speech. Intrepid reporter Frank Adams flies to Moscow to find out who is behind the attempted assassination. Adams soon discovers that everybody lies. Everybody spies. His friends are opportunists, his colleagues are neck-deep in underground operations, and even his ex-wife, Lisa Hawkes, has been covering up secrets for years. Deploying poker as a leitmotif, High Hand explores the risks and rewards of one man’s tumble into high-stakes international politics as he attempts to uncover the truth.”

—Lisa A. DuBois, Author, More Than a Place

A weekly poker game played within eyeshot of the Kremlin in Moscow is the foundation for a sequence of murders involving the former players. The story bursts with details of oil schemes, secret pipeline deals, and cross-cultural intrigue. The captivating machinations move the reader to explore each turn of events. High Hand is a very fun read and an educational adventure.”

—William Thompson, former gaming consultant, President’s Commission on Organized Crime, Ronald Reagan Administration

In High Hand, Curtis J. James reveals the New Cold War game and its players as rarely done before. Mixing the old spy world of le Carré with the journalistic sleuthing of a contemporary Woodward and Bernstein investigation, the book takes the reader through unexpected events of deception, treachery, and avarice that unfold in Los Angeles, Moscow, and beyond. The suspense is underwritten by grim reality—1,148 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1992. High Hand is a good bet.”

—Patrick G. Riley, author of The One-Page Proposal

High Hand is both a recreational and educational expedition through modern-day politics, business, and espionage. Featuring terrific historical and geographic realism with a wealth of detail about places, people, and technology, it almost reads like a documentary—until some of our favorite characters start dropping. Then it’s a screen-swiper until the end.”

—David Rossetti, former Vice President for Network Protocol Engineering, Cisco Systems