The Unexpected Spy

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The Unexpected Spy

A Novel
by Tracy Walder with Jessica Anya Blau


On Sale: February 25, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Paperback: 255 Pages

Publisher Description

In The Unexpected Spy tells about  a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs

When Tracy Walder enrolled at the University of Southern California, she never thought that one day she would offer her pink beanbag chair in the Delta Gamma house to a CIA recruiter, or that she’d fly to the Middle East under an alias identity.

The Unexpected Spy is the riveting story of Walder’s tenure in the CIA and, later, the FBI. In high-security, steel-walled rooms in Virginia, Walder watched al-Qaeda members with drones as President Bush looked over her shoulder and CIA Director George Tenet brought her donuts. She tracked chemical terrorists and searched the world for Weapons of Mass Destruction. She created a chemical terror chart that someone in the White House altered to convey information she did not have or believe, leading to the Iraq invasion. Driven to stop terrorism, Walder debriefed terrorists—men who swore they’d never speak to a woman—until they gave her leads. She followed trails through North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, shutting down multiple chemical attacks.

Then Walder moved to the FBI, where she worked in counterintelligence. In a single year, she helped take down one of the most notorious foreign spies ever caught on American soil. Catching the bad guys wasn’t a problem in the FBI, but rampant sexism was. Walder left the FBI to teach young women, encouraging them to find a place in the FBI, CIA, State Department or the Senate—and thus change the world.


Tracy Walder has lived a very different life. She was recruited into the CIA straight from college and the Delta Gamma house. She was part of the CIA during and after 9/11. Her unique experiences surrounding the terrorist cells and her travels made a very interesting and uncommon story.

Well, the only problem I had with The Unexpected Spy is the tone. I felt the author was arrogant. She is probably not. She is probably super nice. But, part of this came across as bragging. I know, I know, just my thoughts. However, it is a good read and I enjoyed learning about situations I knew nothing about. Plus, with all her achievements…then she definitely has bragging rights.

This memoir is a true learning experience. Her job with the FBI made me want to come through this book and beat someone up. Plus, the processes and the people involved opened my eyes to the difficulties surrounding keeping the American people safe.

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.reeca2

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“Reads like the show bible for Homeland only her story is real.” —Alison Stewart, WNYC

“A thrilling tale…Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)




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