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Agent Les Wiser Jr. and the Case of Aldrich Ames

CIA officer Aldrich H. “Rick” Ames secretly worked for the notorious KGB, selling secrets that caused the executions of at least 10 U.S. assets. Book 2 in the FBI Files series takes younger readers inside the hunt for this killer mole. From the work rooms at CIA headquarters to the Washington field office of the FBI, you’ll meet the amazing cast of characters that brought Ames to justice.



A lone-wolf terrorist carried out fourteen bombings from 1978 to 1995, leaving three people dead and another twenty-three injured. This cunning genius taunted his FBI pursuers for nearly two decades, terrifying Americans from coast to coast. This series takes younger readers to the scenes of the crimes as FBI agents hunt for the Unabomber.

This page-turning true-crime narrative takes readers behind the scenes of the detailed work, decision-making, and sometimes luck that go into solving difficult cases. The writing is lively, and the principal players are fully dimensional. . . .This is the first in a series that will look at the important cases of the FBI, and it’s a highly auspicious opener.
— Kirkus Review
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Voted by Amazon’s Editors as One of the Best Books of the Month for Children 9-12 (June 2019)

Denson’s text delivers true-crime thrills generally reserved for older readers but packaged here in streamlined content and accessible text, laced with a well-chosen selection of photographs and document reproductions. Readers with the self-control to keep from flipping to the final chapters, author notes, bombings timeline, and source notes will appreciate that Denson keeps bomber Ted Kaczynski’s identity mum to the latest possible moment.
— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Denson’s well-written, well-researched book (with photographs) engages readers from the beginning and builds suspense as the case hits dead-ends again and again. His lengthy important background and insight into how they solved the case, grounding this true-crime account firmly in facts.
— Booklist
Written in a mix of informative reporting on the Unabomber’s crimes and narrative nonfiction when describing the investigation, this book gives a thrilling look at a period of criminal history that many know by name, but not by detail. . . . The text, pacing, and topic are accessible to reluctant readers, and the back matter features a wide array of resources and additional reading. VERDICT An enthralling, well-researched introduction to true crime for upper elementary/middle school readers.
— School Library Journal (Molly Dettmann)


The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer
Ever Convicted of Espionage
and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia

The Spy's Son has been published in five languages, with Russian soon to come.

The Spy's Son has been published in five languages, with Russian soon to come.

In a stunning piece of reporting, Denson has unraveled one of the strangest spy stories in American history and written a haunting book as fast paced and exciting as the best spy novel. It will keep readers awake as he takes them deep into a world of international espionage populated by KGB and CIA agents, American spy catchers, and a family they’ll never forget — and it’s all true.
— Robert Lindsey, author of The Falcon and the Snowman
The Spy’s Son is an intelligence service’s worst nightmare—a double agent inside its walls. Human foibles of hubris and greed drive Jim Nicholson to betray his nation’s deepest secrets and his own family. Denson’s telling of the tale is riveting, agonizing, and for a former spook like me, sometimes heart-stopping
— Valerie Plame, author of Fair Game

About The Spy's Son

Jim Nicholson joined the CIA in 1980. In 1994, he switched teams.

Jim Nicholson joined the CIA in 1980. In 1994, he switched teams.

Award-winning investigative reporter Bryan Denson tells the riveting true story of a father-son spy plot, a modern-day tale of espionage and betrayal that reads like a novel. The Spy's Son takes readers deep inside the world of spies and spy catchers, a dysfunctional CIA family, and the secret cat-and-mouse games still playing out between the United States and Russia.

Jim Nicholson was a CIA “blue flamer,” a hotshot case officer on the rise. But his career took a sinister turn during a 1994 posting in Malaysia. There, looking for love in the middle of a messy divorce and custody battle, the spy nicknamed “Batman” found himself in a pinch for money. To make ends meet, he secretly volunteered to sell some of his nation’s most closely guarded secrets to his counterparts in Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR. After two decades of patriotic dedication as a military officer and then a covert operator for the CIA, Jim became his agency's highest-ranking Judas.

The CIA eventually reassigned Jim to run counterterrorism operations in the agency's headquarters building at Langley, Virginia. By day, he and his team gathered intelligence on Middle East terrorist organizations that eventually morphed into al Qaeda. By night, Jim was just another single dad driving a minivan home to dine with his kids. But late at night, when the children were asleep, he secretly typed encrypted notes into his personal laptop, including highly classified files stolen from the CIA, to prepare for his next meeting with the SVR. In late 1996, the FBI arrested Jim, and a federal judge sentenced him to a long prison term. He remains the highest-ranking CIA officer ever to betray his country.

Behind the bars of the federal prison in Oregon, Jim plotted a second act of betrayal. The former mole systematically groomed the one person he trusted most to serve as his stand-in: his youngest son, Nathan. When asked to smuggle messages out of prison to his old friends from Russia, Nathan saw an opportunity to be heroic, to make his father proud, and to explore the clandestine world he had only heard about.

But there was more going on between Jim and the Russians than Nathan could have fathomed, and Jim kept him in the dark.

Their plot, and its aftermath, would change everything.