BOOK: American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Amazon)
SUMMARY: Romance, espionage, family drama, deceit. What more could you want?
I’m not necessarily what you would call an adventurous person. I avoid risk at all cost. I dislike the outdoors unless it’s well-groomed, like a park or a patio. Dangerous careers have never appealed to me. But I am deeply susceptible to peer pressure, which is why I picked up American Spy from the library after seeing approximately 1 million people post about it on Instagram.
The debut novel from Lauren Wilkinson, this book tells the story of Marie Mitchell, a low-ranking FBI agent. Marie joins the FBI after following in the footsteps of her father, a police officer, and her sister, who always dreamed of working in intelligence - her mother left when she was a young girl.
Craving more responsibility - and chafing at the racism, sexism and conservatism of her mostly male, white, coworkers - Marie finds herself working undercover to infiltrate the leftist government of Burkina Faso in the 1980s. And events, shall we say, do not transpire as expected. Marie develops a connection with the political leader she’s supposed to be entrapping, she discovers that maybe the assignment she’s on is not so legit after all. Everything culminates (in the very first pages of the book - the novel is told primarily through Marie’s letters to her sons, after it all happens) in anonymous gunmen coming after her. I’m telling you, a lot happens.
There are, like, five distinct plot lines in American Spy - what the deal is with Marie’s family, what happened to her sister after she joined the military, what the real motives of her assignment in Burkina Faso are, and who, ultimately, are the good guys and the bad guys. (It’s obviously a little more complicated than that). But my main beef with this novel is that I wanted more. Every story was so interesting - but it moved so fast that I felt like I only got to scratch the surface with each one.
If you like adventure, mysteries, or spy novels, you’ll love this - it was a fast-paced, super-entertaining read that kept me on my toes the entire time, with smart commentary on gender, race and politics. I honestly just wished that it was twice as long - maybe the perfect set-up for a sequel, though?