Nora Baron is back! When the CIA helps a defecting Russian actress in Venice, the op turns deadly in this white-knuckle thriller from the bestselling author of Mrs. John Doe—proving once again that, in the words of James Patterson, “Tom Savage knows the mystery novel inside and out.”
Galina Rostova, the hot new star of Moscow’s theater scene—and mistress to a powerful Russian general—has reached out to the CIA. In exchange for information vital to U.S. security, she requests asylum in America. The Company’s top pick for the mission is Nora Baron. The wife of a CIA operative, this Long Island mother and drama teacher has proven to be an asset in the field before. And as an actress herself, her cover will be convincing.
Disguised as a television news host, Nora heads to Venice, Italy, where Rostova is appearing in Chekhov’s The Seagull. As the cameras roll during their mock interview, the starlet will make her escape—or at least that’s the plan. But when the defection goes off-script, the two women are on the run from Russian agents. And when a snowstorm buries Venice, clogging the streets, waterways, and airport, the stage is set for tragedy—with several lives at risk of a final curtain.
Release Date: March 28, 2017
I really enjoyed the first Nora Baron novel, as she is such an original character. This second one, for me, didn’t quite live up to all the promise of the first.
To begin with, the story premise requires quite a leap in credulity. Nora, who has absolutely no training as a spy, is recruited by the CIA, not only to handle an international mission, but to run the mission on her own. I wanted to know why no one within the CIA, or no one the organization would normally contract, would be a better option. But, okay, I put aside my skepticism and went with the ‘Nora as superhero’ theme because I do like her character.
Now, Nora was deliberately baiting a dangerous man, trying to force him to show his hand.
Next, the pace is exceedingly slow for the first two-thirds of the story. We spend a whole lot of time on touristy stuff. Clearly, the author is familiar with the region, but often I felt too much like I was reading a tour guide, rather than a thriller.
He explained that the glass industry had been banished from Venice to this northern location in the thirteenth century, a result of the fear that fires from the glass foundries might engulf the mostly wooden structures on the main island.
The final third of the book picks up dramatically. This is where the story comes together and all of the pieces start falling into place. The plot has some intricate dynamics, and this part feels like the thriller the book is meant to be. We have a couple of great twists woven in. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised by them, mainly because the slow pace leading up to this point gave me a lot of room to figure things out on my own. Still, I enjoyed the execution of these aspects.
As she stood looking out, she saw a dark shadow in the garden below her detach itself from other shadows and move stealthily along the garden wall.
While this book can certainly be read as a stand-alone, I recommend starting with the first book, Mrs. John Doe, in order to get a better feel of Nora’s character and her eventual affiliation with the CIA.
*I was provided with an advance copy by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*
Thanks for reading. 🙂