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 really wanted to like this one but just couldn't get into it.

Told in the snippets of brief scenes and revelations that case officers and analysts have to put together and interpret to craft “intelligence,” this book has the elusiveness of a good spy. This makes it at times frustrating and random, especially as Anna seems to just be wandering towards success without really earning trust, just being passed from her father and godfather to the next generation, her husband and the protege. Then she’s lead towards a responsibility that she has no qualifications or preparation for, and we have no clue as to her desire for it. This could be more invisible hands pulling strings, like the ones that brought her father in touch with the Chinese asset — which side benefitted more from that? Who was the mark? An interesting glimpse at the ambiguities and shifting loyalties of spy life and culture.

I really wanted to get into this book, but just couldn't. It switches back and forth between someone telling Anna about her father and her life after his death. I kept waiting for the "big moment" when some crazy truth would be revealed, but it just kind of said the same information over and over again. I was hoping to be able to say "slow, but that ending- wowza!" but, it never delivered.

Although the premise of this book was intriguing because I love espionage, I struggled getting through it. Despite short chapters which usually make a story like this a quick read, it just couldn't hold my attention. I probably would have made my way through the whole story as I usually try to do but the lending clock ticked faster than I thought it would and I wasn't able to complete it. Since I didn't make if you're the end, I don't feel like I can give it s complete review. Maybe if I could have held on until the end it would have changed my opinion.

Red, White, Blue Is a book about the CIA and espionage. It was interesting but hard to get into. The book gives no history and just starts jumping from character to character. It took me quite a few chapters to understand who the characters were and how the story flowed. The chapters jump between characters and points of view. I feel that the story never flowed real well with the skipping points of view. I did not like the vagueness of this book.

Very cleverly and well written untraditional spy story with two main plot lines being woven intricately together throughout the book. [author:Lea Carpenter|6550476] changes narrator every other chapter, and the chapters are super short (rarely more than a page or two), which adds a certain dynamic to the story development, but I am not a great fan of that particular technique. The book was difficult to put down ("just one more chapter..."), and I was well entertained, but it will probably not be a book I remember a year from now.

This is one of those books you’ll find more information in the book jacket than in the book itself. Spy novels are supposed to be shrouded in mystery, all smoke and mirrors, but this one is downright vague and ultimately unsatisfying. Lea Carpenter has the bones of a good story here but it’s as if she turned in an outline to her editor and they hit the print button without bothering to read it. Red, White, Blue is like watching a movie trailer and all the teasers leading up to release and then never seeing the movie. Chapters are short, a few paragraphs; partial scenes with not a lot of substance. Rather than fleshing out characters, the author shows us snippets of their thoughts and history and leaves the rest to the reader’s imagination. What works in this shell of a story is the intelligence piece, the case officer sharing trade secrets with his mentor’s daughter, it’s interesting stuff if you’re a civilian. Thanks to Penguin Random House, First To Read program for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for a candid review.

I really enjoy espionage novels, so I went into this one with high expectations. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met. I simply could not get used to Carpenter’s writing style. The novel switches perspective between Anna, whose father is recently deceased under suspicious circumstances, and her father’s young protege. It wasn’t always clear which character was speaking, so a technique that often results in an interesting presentation of a storyline, fell flat. I simply could not get into this story, so I did the unthinkable: I didn’t finish reading the novel. For me, reading is a pleasure, not a chore. This book was simply too laborious. Sorry, I cannot recommend this one. I was chosen to read an advance copy of this book as part of Penguin's First to Read program. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

I like reading novels that center around spying/intelligence, but find that I sometimes difficulty reading them due to the writing style. Going into this novel I was expecting pretty conventional storytelling and was very pleasantly surprised. This book shifts perspective mainly between Anna, who is still mourning the death of her father, and a CIA operative that her father trained. The chapters are short and the story is not told in the way you expect from spy/intelligence centered novels. It's non-linear, more philosophical and contains very little action, if any. I know some have had issues with the style, but I really loved it. It took me a few chapters to get used to it, but once I did, I was fully invested in the narrative. I will say there was one point in the middle where I wondered where the story was going, but it was a fleeting thought. The book doesn't wrap itself up in a neat little bow, but that is one of its charms. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read Carpenter's previous and future novels.

Red White Blue, (RWB) by Lea Carpenter, is not a typical spy novel. Oh, it has suspense and it focusses on the world through a spy’s eyes, but danger and chase scenes are seriously wanting. RWB is much more in the vein of a le Carré story - exploring the psychology and philosophy of the spy mind. Of course, these traits are exposed by the narrative, but RWB goes one step further and uses the structure of the exposition to bring the issues of uncertainty and trust to the fore. Each chapter is divided into two parts: one is a straight-forward third person limited narrative of the feelings, events and thoughts in the life of the protagonist, Anna, an extremely intelligent young woman (graduated Summa cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa.) The other part of each chapter is a letter or transcript of a recording, a second-person narrative, addressed directly to Anna by her father’s protégé and labelled Q. A. This part relates to Anna the secret story of her father, a CIA espionage chief, about which Anna is clueless. The mystery at the heart of RWB is the father’s death in an avalanche near his winter home in the Swiss Alps. However, the trail leading to this event is long and circuitous, and as we, the readers, traverse it, we learn from the point of view of two different narrators all about the minds and spirits of four main people - Anna, her father, her mother and the protégé. It is a story that balances on the reliability of the limited viewpoints of the narrators - is what is being presented a riddle or a clue (to the character and to the reader)? Is the narrator missing the forest while describing the trees? What were the motivations for particular choices and actions? Is each person acting, at each instance, on the basis of their own individual ethics and philosophies or are there societal or corporate pressures at play, protocols and documents, testimonies and cultures? The result of these different narratives and the structure of their presentations is to force the reader into the mindset of a spy, one who must deal with a large set of unknowns and must disentangle the clues from the riddles and try to determine Truth, one who is only gradually able to assign a logical interpretation to a set of events, to winnow the wheat from the chaff. The reader stumbles down blind alleys, retreats, tries to find the right place for each jigsaw piece, and learns along the way some of what it must be like to be a spy. What fun! (4 stars) I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Red, White, Blue was a very different read for me. I am an avid reader of espionage books and the book description really stands out. I received a copy via Penguin Random House's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. Anna has just lost her father Noel who was a larger than life role model for her. They did most things together after Lulu, Anna's mother left the family. What struck me most about Anna's memory of that event was how both of them responded to Lulu's leaving. The reader sees how devoted her father is to Anna, but, we also see despite how cold he might seem she overhears his response which shows just how human he really is and also draws the reader closer to Noel and his love for his family. As the reader is shown Noel in more of a third person viewpoint as different characters in the book describe Noel and his actions throughout his life, as they understood them. There was one thing that was hard for me throughout the book and what stopped me from giving it five stars. There were numerous aspects throughout the book where I had trouble determining who was speaking. In some areas, it felt like Anna was remembering conversations with Noel and with Jake and with a man who was trained by and worked with Noel. At times it felt like I was reading a memoir of Noel's life told by Anna and the man she met while on her honeymoon. I was not quite sure how I felt about Anna's relationship with her husband Jake. It almost felt like when she was on her own she met someone whose personality was similar to her father's and he basically took over in molding her to be what he needed her to be just as Noel did after her mother left. The reader spends their time changing their mind throughout the book about who Noel was and what he did that caused the different agencies to descend upon Anna after Noel died. Lulu seemed to recognize this when she saw all the perfectly ironed and spaced shirts in Jake's closet and questioned their relationship. What is odd is that whatever the structure of their relationship, he also seemed to need her and her approval for his life to work the way he needed. Red, White, Blue is a great book with amazing character development. Outside of the confusing point of view which just may be my interpretation of the flow of the book, this is a thrilling, character-driven mystery. Review can also be seen at Lady Techie's Book Musings http://LadyTechiesbookmusings.blogspot.com.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have to say that I was all excited to get this one because I love spy books. However, I couldn’t get into this one. I tried three separate times to read this one and still couldn’t do it. This book went absolutely nowhere. It circled around and around and around, and stil went nowhere. I don’t recommend this one at all.

I’m sorry to say that I had a hard time with this novel. For me the first couple of chapters told me that I would have to concentrate real hard to follow the thread of the story so I was unable to finish the book However I did not get a chance to review THE PRICE YOU PAY which I loved!!! It had everything for a fun read with consequences The hijinks committed were sometimes outlandish but fun! It satisfied so many revenge fantasies! Jack Price deserves a sequel!

I found it difficult to get into this book. With short chapters that alternate between Anna’s story and an alternate narrator’s experiences with the CIA it was sometimes confusing. As a mystery and thriller fan, I found the sections covering the workings of the CIA interesting but the format left the story choppy and I found myself skimming some sections.

It was an enjoyable book. I liked the format of storytelling through alternating perspectives. It was a bit slow to get through though, and I found it to be rather dense at points.

This book sounded interesting but I just could not get into it. The writing style with the back and forth between characters and chapters was just confusing, I kept getting mixed up who was telling the story and it just was not interesting. Chapters are short and you never can really get immersed into the story when it goes to a different narrative for a couple of pages. None of the characters were very interesting and I ended up not really caring about any of them or even caring how the book ended. First book I've been disappointed in for my First to Read pick.

The author allowed the art of writing to get in the way of character and plot, two primary requirements for a good book. Alternating points of view can work, as can not knowing who one of the narrators is, but not both, especially when the primary character, Anna, isn't fully fleshed.

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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