American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson @millieseaward @dialoguebooks @thrillkinson #AmericanSpy #LaurenWilkinson #BookReview #TheClqrt #BookBlog #BookRecommendation

16th July 2020 Dialogue Books

Book Description

What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love?

It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War. Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant and talented, but she’s also a black woman working in an all white boy’s club, and her career has stalled with routine paperwork – until she’s recruited to a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, whose Communist ideology has made a target for American intervention.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Thomas, seduce him, and ultimately, have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover and a good American.

Inspired by true events, this novel is sweeping historical fiction with an enthralling espionage thriller at its core, and introduces a powerful new literary voice.

My Thoughts

Many thanks to Millie Seaward for sending me a copy of this book, I love hearing from Millie because honestly the book list at Dialogue is so impressive in its range and diversity and never disappoints, American Spy was no exception!

Written in the unique but engaging voice of Marie, she is looking back on her life in the format of an account for her young children in the event of her not being around to tell them about her life and specifically their father. This is following a pivotal moment for her, when a man breaks into her home an attempts to kill her. Yes, this book started with a bang but them evolved into something terrific, gripping, thought provoking, informative… the list goes on.

An insightful account of life as a Spy, was it accurate? I don’t know but it read very authentically and offered the reader a glimpse of the rather grubby world of intelligence, especially if you are a woman and black. I must confess I know little about the cold war and USA activitiy and even less about Burka Faso, but as with all good historical fiction this book gave me enough information to inspire me to go away and find out more.

In under 300 pages Lauren Wilkinson has written a comprehensive novel, she has created a well formed character in Marie and with a life story told moving between time periods, we learn about Marie’s upbringing, her family and how she came to be fighting off an armed intruder in the middle of the night at her home in Connecticut.

I enjoyed this book a lot whilst reading it, but reflecting now I am even more impressed with the depth of the story told. Coined as a spy thriller, this book is so much more, Marie takes us with her on her journey as she weighs up what she is being asked to do in terms of bringing down Thomas Sankara, a man she likes but whose own values she questions as she does the positioning of her own countries actions in this fragile time. In a world of espionage who can be trusted and what does this mean for family ties and friendships, where exactly do the loyalties lie? A mighty story, something familiar told in an entirely original way and making this a unique piece of fiction which left me wanting more.

A summer pick by Barack Obama and a winter recommendation from me!

About the Author

Lauren Wilkinson grew up in New York City and lives in the Lower East Side. She earned her MFA in Fiction and Literary Translation from Columbia University and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has received writing fellowships from the Centre for Fiction and MacDowell Colony, and her fiction has appeared in Granta.

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