The Names of the Dead – Book Review

By Kevin Wignall
Published on: February 1, 2020

An espionage story of revenge that has a very interesting and refreshing support character that I fell in love with.


Former CIA officer James ‘Wes’ Wesley paid the ultimate price for his patriotism when he was locked up in a French jail for an anti-terror operation gone wrong—abandoned by the Agency he served, shunned by his colleagues and friends, cut off from his family.

Now he is shattered by the news that his ex-wife, Rachel, a State Department analyst, has been killed in a terrorist attack in Spain. He also discovers that his young son, Ethan, is missing. But Wes didn’t know he had a son—until now.

Why was Rachel in Spain? And why did she keep his son secret from him?

Granted early release, Wes takes flight across Europe to search for the truth and exact his revenge. But can he catch the spies who betrayed him before they track him down? In order to find the answers and save his son, Wes realizes he must confront the dark secrets in his own past—before it’s too late.


An espionage revenge story spanning from prison in France to several European countries. The book starts with an explosion in Granada that kills several people, including Wes’s ex-wife Rachel. Wes is in a French prison that holds war criminals when he learns of her death, but also that the son he didn’t know he had hasn’t been found yet. He has known for a while he was setup for what he is in prison for and who exactly had set him up, but now he has reason to believe that those responsible are trying to tie up loose ends. Soon the French prison lets Wes out due to these special circumstances, but it’s literally minutes into his release when things start escalating.

One of the best things going for this story is a very interesting supporting character in Mia. Most of the time in espionage stories you might see another character who is very skilled in something spy-related, perhaps they have a network of contacts, or know how to handle explosives. However, Mia is not like this in any way, shape, or form and I doubt you will find another espionage story with a supporting character like her. I loved how she was presented within the book, from the questions she asks to her outlook on life, not to mention all the conversations between Wes and Mia as he tries to explain things to her, or their discussions regarding deep matters of conscience or morality. Any scene with her in it and her interactions with others was my absolute favorite part of the story.

Another positive is how the various famous sites and locations in Spain and Portugal are used or referenced. There are no dead-drops in the tourist sections that you might see in other spy books, but instead we follow Wes and Mia as they navigate through the various locations Rachel went to prior to the explosion at the cafe giving us a book-tourist view of the countries.

In comparing this story to other espionage stories it should be pointed out that this is not a high-tech type book and isn’t one that constantly uses all the latest gadgets and whistles. Instead, it is just a lot of retracing Rachel’s steps and trying to find out what they can from the little bits of conversations they have with various individuals they meet. And although there is action in the story it is not constant action, which I appreciated since it allowed me to enjoy all the conversations and moments with Mia in it.

Rating: 4 stars

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