This unique, standalone spy thriller comes out in just two days and it’s not one to be missed!
Author: Hannah Carmack
Publication date: January 2018
Genre: LGBTQ+ Thriller
Renowned. Proud. Feared.
Diana Riley is not to be trusted.
The year is 1963 and in the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, her and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.
But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Wesley Russ, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame Diana.
In an attempt to reverse the effects of the experimentation and reenter society, Diana enlists the help of a hip and eclectic alien enthusiast to get in touch with the CIA. However, isolation has its downfalls. What the spies don’t know is that the CIA is undergoing a serious coup due to the assassination of President Kennedy.
Firstly, a very big thank you to the very lovely author Hanna Carmack for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was warned in advance that this wasn’t a ‘Happily Ever After’ narrative which suited me down to the ground – HEA rarely gets me these days, I’m all about the dismal and distressing dark side of fiction and I was not disappointed. What’s great though is that it’s not *just* dismal, it combines subtle humour, immorality, deceit and misdirection in a web of story that’s so addictive: I was desperate to find out where it all landed.
The timeline was pulled off well – extracts that were retelling past events were clear and definitive and added a really nice depth to the characters. Seeing each character at various stages in their lives created rich, layered, and complex personalities and helped bring them to life. In terms of plot It is (in its rawest form) a cat and mouse chase but the hunters and the hunted seem to constantly switch places. I enjoyed the journey. The only minor thing was that it distracted from Diana/Hera/Goddess – as she was the focus in the synopsis I would’ve thought she’d be central. However I found the balance between characters to be quite refreshing: it didn’t direct me, as a reader, towards supporting one over the other. This added to the notion that the ideas ‘right and ‘wrong’ and ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ aren’t black and white ideas.
As I found out more about each character I found it was more difficult to separate the ‘baddies’ from the ‘goodies’ – it’s a classic play on the morally grey and in that respect really reminded me of V.E.Schwab’s Vicious. It moved at a similar speed too, with something always happening to push the plot forwards. I particularly enjoyed the character development for Rigan/Marco. Ruby/Robin added some brightness to an otherwise quite negative lot of people – I loved the contrast.
In terms of Historical accuracy it all seemed fairly accurate. I’m no expert but I know there were no iPads in the sixties – given that no iPads were mentioned anywhere, it gets my vote for accuracy!
Overall I found it to be a really consistent, well written thriller and I’d definitely recommend it!
3.5 out of 5