Red, White, Blue
by Carpenter, Lea

Mourning the charismatic father who died suspiciously the day before her wedding, Anna becomes estranged from her new husband before meeting an enigmatic stranger who alludes to her father's secret past.

LEA CARPENTER graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and has an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was valedictorian. She is a Contributing Editor at Esquire and has written the screenplay for Mile 22, a film about CIA's Special Activities Division, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and John Malkovich, coming out in July. She is developing Eleven Days for television with Lucy Donnelly (Grey Gardens) and Gideon Raff (Homeland). She lives in New York.

*Starred Review* Carpenter's second novel-after her highly praised debut, Eleven Days (2013)-is an appropriately subtle espionage tale, told in spare prose and in short chapters, alternately in the third person, about a young woman named Anna, and in the first person by the CIA case officer who was mentored by Anna's father, Noel. Anna, whose mother left when she was a child, grew up close to the father she believed to be a banker. The day before her wedding to musical wunderkind Jake in Switzerland, Noel goes skiing and dies in an avalanche, so Anna dispenses with party plans and marries in jeans as she grieves. Jake, a natural charmer who wants to change the world, sells the music business he established and pivots to politics, an area in which Anna's father's past becomes problematic. Threaded through the personal account is the business of spycraft: recruiting, nurturing, and-most delicate of all-exfiltrating an asset. This novel is to literature what pointillism is to art, with dots that combine to make a whole picture, one that merges a moving love story with details of a profession that, by its nature, involves both loyalty and duplicity. A stunner. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

The day before Anna's wedding in Switzerland, her powerfully connected, globe-trotting father mysteriously dies on a ski slope. It's only after his death that she learns just how deep the mysteries around him run. During her belated honeymoon in the south of France, she has an encounter in a hotel bar with a CIA case worker who tells her that her father, Noel, was a cohort of his at the agency. She later learns through recordings and a shocking video of Noel being interrogated that he may have spied for the Chinese. Combined with memories of her mother's abandonment of her when she was little, the revelations leave her with "nothing but an outline of the story of her own life." Though she attended Princeton, mastered Chinese and Russian, and worked at the Ford Foundation, Anna has always had a rebellious streak, as reflected in her marriage to a pop-music producer. But in a life further clouded by miscarriages, a failing marriage, and investigations into her own background af ter "her husband" (as he's always called, with no name) announces his bid for a New York Senate seat, she is left not knowing what to rebel against except fate itself. Carpenter's artfully fragmented novel, which alternates between third-person chapters told from Anna's perspective and the CIA agent's first-person narrative, brilliantly uses the conventions of spy fiction to expose the duplicity and betrayals in people's personal lives. In her chilly, unsparing dissection of the trickle-down effect the muddied morality of bureaucracies has on private lives, Carpenter reveals the influence of Joan Didion, queen of alienation. Employing a failed spy operation as the backdrop for a young woman's search for identity, Carpenter's mesmerizing follow-up to her acclaimed war novel, Eleven Days (2013), is as deeply affecting as it is razor-sharp. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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