Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter

Red, White, Blue

Lea Carpenter

Smart, fast-moving, and suspenseful, Red, White, Blue plunges us into the inner workings of the CIA, a China Ops gone wrong, and the consequences of a collision between one’s personal ties and the most exacting professional commitment.

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A dark, powerful, and subtly crafted novel that traces the intertwined fates of a CIA case officer and a young woman who is forced to confront her dead father's secret past--at once a gripping, immersive tale of duplicity and espionage, and a moving story of love and loyalty.

Anna is the beloved only child of the charismatic Noel, a New York City banker--and a mother who abandoned her. When Noel dies in a mysterious skiing accident in Switzerland the day before his daughter's wedding, Anna, consumed by grief, grows increasingly distant from her prominent music-producing husband, who begins running for office. One day, while on her honeymoon in the south of France, Anna meets an enigmatic stranger who will cause perhaps even greater upheaval in her life. It will soon become clear that this meeting was no chance encounter: this man once worked with Anna's father and has information about parts of Noel's life that Anna never knew. When she arrives back in New York, she receives a parcel that contains a series of cryptic recordings and videos showing Noel at the center of a brutal interrogation. Soon, everything Anna knows about her father's life--and his death--is called into question, launching her into a desperate search for the truth.

Smart, fast-moving, and suspenseful, Red, White, Blue plunges us into the inner workings of the CIA, a China Ops gone wrong, and the consequences of a collision between one's deepest personal ties and the most exacting and fateful professional commitment.


Advance Galley Reviews

I love to read mysteries, psychological thrillers, and the occasional spy novel. This one is part spy novel and part mystery, but mostly, it's about Anna trying to find out about her father and his death (which happens right before her wedding). The chapters are alternating points of view, and I had to really focus to keep it all straight. The story was intriguing, but definitely not an easy or lazy read.

This is a novel about secrecy and intelligence and the CIA, but it isn't really a spy novel. It's a novel about a woman who is trying to understand her father, who died in an accident (?) the day before her wedding. She tries to examine what she knew of him while she was growing up (how she wondered about her parents: who honeymoons in Tripoli?) and also to wrap her mind around new information she learns from a manuscript by a man who knew her father well. The structure of the book was a bit trying at times. It's in alternating chapters focusing on Anna and entries from the manuscript. But several chapters are 1-2 pages. The effect is rather like watching a very talented dancer with a strobe light on. It's neat for a few seconds, but it gets annoying after a while -- shut that thing off and just let me enjoy the dancing. There are lots and lots of cliffhangers, and many of them felt like conceits and an excuses rather than the result of masterful styling. But that's my main grumble about the book -- otherwise it was intriguing, thought-provoking, and an all-around good read. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

I had a very difficult time getting into this book and was very confused most of the time. I'm not sure if that was the author's intentions to lay the book out the way it is laid out, but I did not care for it at all.

I was hopeful when I began reading this book because I was intrigued by the subject and enjoyed the way the author chose to narrate the story. However, I became confused and was ready for the story to just end. By the time I reached the conclusion of the story, I really didn't care what happened to the characters. I was glad to be finished!

I fell into this novel pretty quickly when it was talking about the Farm and CIA. But along the way it got a bit scattered and I started to lose focus on what the book was even about. I was intrigued by Noel and respected his take on things and how he chose his path. Thanks First to Read for my advance copy!

I had trouble finishing this book, mostly because there isn't much of a plot. It wasn't until 2/3 of the way through that I was becoming interested in the outcome, but I was disappointed to find out that there isn't a lot of closure with the ending. After finishing it, I was pretty much thinking that's it?? But that's my personal preference, I like to understand the character's actions in books I read.

Red, White, Blue is a poetic, fragmentary, compulsively readable spy novel focused on Anna, her father, Noel, a banker who spied on China for the CIA, and a nameless CIA case officer who was his protégé. When Noel dies in a mysterious skiing accident the day before Anna's wedding, she tries to make sense of his life, his work, and the questions that surround them. Who was he really working for? Did he spy on - or for - the Chinese? What does all this mean for Anna as she tries to move forward?

I found the Red, White and Blue very choppy and difficult to get into. 59 pages into the book and we still did not know what the story was about. It could needs longer chapters that are pieced together more coherently.

 


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