The Syndicate Spy

Juliet Arroway Book 1

Brittany Butler

March 21st, 2023

Greenleaf Book Press

The Syndicate Spy by Brittany Butler is an intriguing story that allows readers a glimpse into the espionage world. A former CIA operative, Brittany uses her personal experience to take readers on a thrilling ride.

Brittany Butler spent nine years as a targeting officer within CIA’s Directorate of Operations, Counterterrorism Center. Both at Langley and on temporary assignments in the Middle East, Brittany spearheaded operational efforts to achieve some of the most sensitive foreign intelligence objectives abroad. She uses her first-hand knowledge of targeting methodologies to recruit spies along with extensive field experience to discover and apprehend terrorists abroad.

As a staunch advocate for women’s rights in the Middle East, Brittany has worked for human rights campaigns in Afghanistan to protect and promote the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls. 

She tries to incorporate her feelings into the novel. The story takes place in the future where the Earth’s oil reserves are depleted. Nations grapple to find an alternative energy source. Terrorists race for control over world resources. And the Syndicate, a conglomerate of allied intelligence agencies, struggles to maintain peace.

Both heroines, Juliet Arroway, and her asset, Saudi Princess Mariam, are trying to hunt down the Islamic terrorists responsible for many murderous attacks. A member of Mariam’s family is suspected as the main instigator of the war and terrorist attacks. Juliet is paired with FBI agent Graham in the task to obtain the formula that could solve the energy crisis.

This is a story of deception, double-cross, heroism, and female empowerment.  Both Juliet and Mariam are independent, self-assured, and self-sufficient women trying to change the culture of how women are treated. 

Elise Cooper:  Did your professional experience influence the story?

Brittany Butler:  I really feel passionate about women’s rights in Afghanistan. My last assignment was in the Pakistan-Afghanistan division where I worked for about three years.  I saw all the abuses of the Taliban. I now volunteer for an organization called, Women for Afghan Women. They provided funds for shelters there. One of the Afghan women I became friends with has worked for the US military and intelligence community quite a bit, becoming a translator. I wrote the novel as fictional to go into the moral dilemma of espionage with internal struggles. 

EC:  It seems to be you have the same uphill struggle J. A. Jance went through, writing in a man’s world?

BB:  I looked at a statistic.  Out of 127 spy authors only two were female. I thought about changing my name or just putting my initials, to hide the fact I was a woman.  But I want to showcase the female perspective, so I do not want to hide behind a different identity. I also wanted to point out in the book that doing this type of job many women feel they cannot espouse femininity. 

EC:  You have in your book strong women?

BB:  The Afghan woman who is my friend showed strength, even after so much hardship.  They did not want to be victimized, but wanted to educate themselves, to have a better future for their children, and to be given opportunities to work. I decided to write a story that showcased a powerful Arab woman, Mariam. I also wanted to change the narrative about female intelligence officers.  We do not use our bodies and sex to obtain information. We use our brains, tradecraft, with the same training and skills as our male counterparts. Twenty years in this war and the country is back to where it was, regarding the women there. 

EC:  How would you describe Juliet, the intelligence officer?

BB:  Strong, feisty, has her own mind, reckless, independent, and a former Army Ranger turned spy. She grieves the loss of her father and is determined to end the energy war that cost her boyfriend and father’s life. She is also passionate and becomes frustrated as I did with ending these wars, while trying to achieve something. 

EC:  How would you describe FBI Agent Graham?

BB: He deals with a lot of the same pitfalls as Juliet.  He is loyal, protective, brash, brave, bold, powerful, and strong. 

EC: The relationship between Juliet and the hero, FBI Agent Graham?

BB:  They can push each other’s buttons.  Juliet is guarded and likes to avoid attachment. I drew this from my own relationship with my husband. The dynamic is that he is supportive and empowering.  His love for me allowed for me to be who I am, which is the same case with Juliet. This made me feel more secure which is how I wrote their relationship, to do the difficult work. Juliet and I are accepted for who we are. 

EC:  What about the Arab asset, Mariam?

BB: Strong, a feminist, defiant, reckless, and courageous. She uses the same tactics as her male counterparts, just like me, but is judged in a more severe way.

EC:  How would you describe the Islamic terrorists?

BB:  They are vindictive, Chauvinists, evil, violent, not empathetic, and egotistical.

EC:  A scene in the book reminded me of the Khost bombing where many CIA people were killed?

BB: Yes, it mirrored the operation in 2009. This had a tremendous impact for my decision to leave after my good friend, Darren LaBone died there. We worked together as case officers in Jordan.  He felt bad he was not there for his wife and three-year-old girl. We were desensitized from the danger, until this happened. Regarding that scene, my dad died while writing the book, so I drew my personal grief from his and Darren’s death.

EC:  What is the Syndicate Organization based upon?

BB:  I mirrored it on what the CIA does in terms of working with foreign liaisons.  We operate as a conglomerate of allied intelligence agencies. We work hand in hand together. We share information from sources. 

EC:  The scene between the Saudi Royalty, Salmon and Aziz,-what does it represent?

BB:  Trying to find ways that unite people versus what divides them. There was a quote in the book, “We all worship the same G-d.  Why can’t we unite on that fact.”  Salmon wants to continue to achieve economic growth and prosperity for the Saudis through cooperation. Aziz has the alternate viewpoint, to maintain monopolies on all energy sources, to wage the Jihad War.

EC: Next book?

BB:  My next book will involve Russia and China. Mariam is waging a war in support of the Feminists, based on what is happening in Iran.  She needs the Syndicate’s help, but they are intimidated by her accumulative power. There is no title and release date.




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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.