Aug 10, 2022 - News

Dallas' Kathleen Kent uses personal experience in new spy thriller

A book cover and an author posing in a chair

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Kent

When Kathleen Kent was a defense contractor in Eastern Europe just after the fall of the Soviet Union, she knew Russian intelligence agents were following her, she tells Axios.

  • Now she's turned those experiences into a new novel, "Black Wolf."

Why it matters: Kent, a bestselling author, is an important part of the burgeoning Dallas literary scene.

The big picture: As a special project manager at one of the first companies commissioned by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program after the Berlin Wall came down, Kent helped dismantle former Soviet military installations in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

  • At the time, the former Soviet Union had more than 30,000 nuclear weapons.
  • Part of her job included reporting any foreign interest in those nuclear weapons.

Of note: After years of staying in former Soviet hotels, Kent can tell if a mirror is actually two-way glass.

State of play: Kent's new novel follows Melvina Donleavy, a young CIA agent stationed inside the collapsing Soviet Union — a world populated by corrupt officials, the Russian Mafia, and, in her telling, a prolific serial killer based on the "Butcher of Rostov."

Reality check: She started writing "Black Wolf" before Russia invaded Ukraine this year, but the new threats of global warfare make Kent's subject matter more relevant now than ever.

Background: After growing up in Dallas and going to college at UT Austin, Kent worked on Wall Street before becoming a defense contractor.

  • She moved back to North Texas a few years ago and started writing full time.
  • Her popular first novel, "The Heretic's Daughter," was published in 2008 and is set during the Salem Witch Trials.

The intrigue: "Black Wolf" will be her first spy thriller. All six of her previous novels were historical fiction or crime dramas.

What's next: "Black Wolf" comes out in February 2023.


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