American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

1992. After an assassination attempt, an ex-FBI agent and CIA contractor, flees with her two young sons to her mother’s house on the island of Martinique. While there, Marie writes her children an explanation of her life.

1962- 1992. The story of her life growing up in NYC, running informants as a new FBI agent, and eventual recruitment into the CIA to spy on the West African nation of Burkina Faso.

This one is a refreshing and sophisticated departure from the usual spy novel fare. It’s a character study of the wills of the past, and the push to future legacies, but there a bit too much of a dialogue of ideologies. Yes, background is needed, but it is heavy-handed in some points.

I really liked the characters though. Marie is the portrait of a special weapon, used by the CIA as a woman and an African-American. She rightfully has a hard time accepting her role at first, but sees an advantage that she may be able to hold. Does her controller grasp all the cards?

Delicate and subtle in the telling at times and a rush of violence at others, American Spy is a book with an excellent premise and original character, yet a plot that occasionally stalls.

3 out of 5 stars

Releases on Feb 12th.

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing, and Lauren Wilkinson for the advanced copy for review.


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