We think we know what an espionage thriller is—a suspenseful story that keeps us on the edge of our seats, takes us to fascinating global locations, plays upon some actual existing international intrigue, and considers themes of betrayal, loyalty, passion and justice. It tends to follow a hero who rights a wrong or prevents an attack. This hero is often a spy, and almost always a man. But what if things were different? What if the espionage thriller switched things up? What i
Curious about the women who spied for the U.S. during World War II, I recently read Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS, by Elizabeth P. McIntosh (1998) and Shadow Warriors: Daring Missions of World War II by Women of the OSS and SOE, by Gordon Thomas and Greg Lewis (2016). Both nonfiction, they describe many fascinating women who were part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) of the United States, an organization formed by President FDR that turned out to be a pre
“Who Is Vera Kelly” by Rosalie Knecht (2018) is part coming-of-age novel, part spy story. It doesn’t evolve like an espionage thriller, but I liked it anyway. About a third of the way through the book, I was desperate to know what would happen. It slowly warmed me up, like a good stew after a long hike in the cold. Written in the first person, it’s about a drifting-but-smart young woman, Vera, who embarks on a job with the CIA and ends up in Buenos Aires on her first major as
In The Poison Factory: Operation Kamera, real-life former CIA Chief of Station Lucy Kirk has created a fast-moving spy/crime thriller revolving around the fictional Dektora Raines, a migraine-med popping, white-wine drinking CIA agent on leave from the agency. “Decky” is tutoring Russian and trying to locate her significant other Alex, whose disappearance has something to do with Syria, when she suddenly receives an urgent plea from Sergei, a Russian defector whom she had onc
Washington, DC – Thursday, Feb. 27, 10:00 a.m. EST When Anna woke up, Viktor’s side of the bed was empty. She put on her robe and walked into the kitchen. He was leaning against the counter, drinking espresso. The toaster oven was humming, and its power button glowed orange. “Good morning,” he said. “You look amazing. Oh, wait, you are amazing,” he said, sidling up to her and putting his hands on her waist. “And brilliant.” She wrapped her hands around his neck. They kissed,
Washington, DC – Wednesday, Feb. 26, 9 p.m. EST A waiter rested his tray, loaded with five steins of beer and five glasses of bourbon, on the table next to Anna. Around her sat Viktor, Raven, Mel and Sara. The table was draped in a white tablecloth. A little plastic “reserved” sign stood in the middle. “I can’t believe you got Karl to take a reservation, Mel,” said Anna. “You’re welcome,” Mel said. “But let me be clear—the tablecloth was Karl’s idea.” “What about the drinks?
Washington, DC – Wednesday, Feb. 26, 11:00 a.m. When Anna walked into the conference room at the DC bureau of the Daily Journal, it was already full. A crescendo of claps, cheers and hoots filled the room. “Whoo hoo!” “Congratulations!” “Welcome back!” She smiled at everyone. Tanner's hands were in the air with palms springing up and down, as if patting an invisible pet. “Alright! Alright! Settle down,” he said. Marching to the head of the conference table, he left the chair
Washington, DC – Monday, Feb. 24, 3:00 p.m. EST With the Federal Reserve behind her, Anna darted into Constitution Gardens near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The wind was blowing, but the sleet had ended. Through the trees to her left, the Washington Monument obelisk glowed in the afternoon sun. Suddenly, she spotted Tanner sitting on a bench facing the Reflecting Pool and rushed over. As soon as he saw her coming, Tanner nodded hello. When she got close, he stood up and ges
Washington, DC – Monday, Feb. 24, 1:00 p.m. EST When Anna arrived home, she was still seething at de Jeanbourg. She knew he was capable of hanging up on her, but when he actually did it, her blood boiled. She jumped out of the car and rushed upstairs without so much as a glance at the lobby lounge. It was as if the people playing billiards, debating the latest social media storm and staring at their laptops weren’t even there. Entering the apartment, she dumped her bag on the
Washington, DC – Monday, Feb. 24, 10:00 a.m. EST Sara jumped up and headed to the front door of the café, planning to bolt just like she had done at the Portrait Gallery. Anna rushed after her. “Sara, wait!” she pleaded. “Please sit down. We need to make a plan.” Giovanni trailed as well. “I didn’t mean I thought you would do it.” Pausing by the entrance, Sara glared at him. Filling the silence, Giovanni quickly continued. “They gave me a few days to convince you, but instead
Washington, DC – Monday, Feb. 24, 9:45 a.m. EST When Sara and Giovanni arrived outside Café de Nimes, Giovanni looked at her for guidance. “Go,” was all she said. He understood, and she followed him inside. Jean Claude’s face lit up at the sight of her. “Ah, Mademoiselle!” he said. “Your Frenchman has found you!” “Yes, Jean Claude,” she said, mustering a smile. “Two more café au laits, please.” “Right away, Mademoiselle!” Jean Claude said. Sara pointed to a booth in the back.
Greenbelt, MD – Monday, Feb. 24, 6:30 a.m. EST “Thanks for coming with me,” Anna said, as Mel barreled north up Rhode Island Avenue toward Maryland. “And for driving in this crappy weather.” The windshield wipers on Mel’s new electric car throbbed. Shaw’s turn-of-the-century row houses shone in the sleet and headlights. “No problem,” Mel said. “The crack of dawn is my time. Did this bozo say why he wanted to meet way out there—at the scenic Greenbelt metro station, the prover
Chiang Mai – Monday, Feb. 24, 4:00 p.m. (4:00 a.m. EST) Raven and Ice sat in the back of a tuk tuk on the shoulder of a two-lane road outside of Chiang Mai. The driver, who didn’t understand English, leaned forward and drooped his arms over the steering wheel as if he might collapse. He stared into the distance, awaiting instructions. “Thank God you noticed Sasha and Ingrid leaving,” Raven said. “Or I would have lost them. I wish we could follow them into this place. What is
Washington, DC – Sunday, Feb. 23, 7:50 p.m. EST “Tanner, it’s me,” Anna said, putting the phone on speaker again. It was her turn to bark. “I can’t believe you….” “Not now, Jones. Listen!” Tanner said, as if they had already been in a conversation. “Remember, somebody tried to call Evy after she died? The number tracks back to a company based in Bangkok called Cutting Edge Forex.” “How did you find that out?” she asked. “I have my contacts here and there, Jones. I’ve been wor
Bangkok – Monday, Feb. 24, 7:30 a.m. local time (7:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 23 in DC) Despite the warm breeze, Mr. Gold shuddered as he waited on bench number twenty-three near the lake in King Rama IX Botanical Garden. Morning joggers trotted down the sandy paths. The spire of the park’s central pavilion glimmered in the distance, and by all accounts the weather was perfect. Nevertheless, Mr. Gold broke out in a cold sweat. He lowered the brim on his baseball hat and star
Washington, DC – Sunday, Feb. 23, 6:00 p.m. EST Anna was not exactly surprised when Charles de Jeanbourg called her—she was used to sources aiming to spin a story, and plenty of people called journalists all the time telling bald face lies hoping to mold reality. She was, however, taken aback that he contacted her so soon. “Well, Mr. de Jeanbourg, you are quick,” she said. “You have been asking around about me,” he said. “I’d like to talk.” “And why is that?” “I’ll tell you w
Chiang Mai – Monday, Feb. 24, 5:00 a.m. local (5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 23 in DC) Sasha and Ingrid staggered down the hall and tumbled into their room, as Raven and Ice watched from the stairwell. As soon as their door slammed, Raven whispered, “Now what?” Ice held the stairwell door open for Raven, and they both stepped into the hall. “It’s almost dawn,” Ice said. “You need sleep too. Have you heard anything from your people yet?” “Nothing. I’m sorry I wasted your time.
Chiang Mai – Sunday, Feb. 23, 10:00 p.m. local time (10:00 a.m. EST in DC) Raven and Ice took off in the taxi, trailing Sasha, the blond woman and Ko. In the dark, they raced down back roads past industrial sites and scrubland. As they came to the Nimmanhaemin area on the west side of the city near the university, signs advertised bars and restaurants, lights twinkled, and the traffic thickened. At the fifth traffic light, Ko jumped out, leaving his companions in the taxi. “A
Miami – Thursday, Feb. 20, 4:00 p.m. EST Scowling, Torenmaas waited in his car, idling in a strip-mall parking lot along Coral Way. It was rush hour. People were picking up groceries, stopping at the ATM, grabbing take-out on the way home. Headlights, brake lights and traffic lights formed an impromptu show, as competing music escaped car windows. Lin pulled into the spot next to his, facing the opposite direction. He parked half-in, half-out of the space, and lowered his win
Washington, DC – Tuesday, Feb. 18, 10:00 p.m. EST “Oh my God!” Anna gasped. She knew Evy must have used an app to schedule the texts, but she had never received messages from a dead person before. What a strange new brand of secret! Anna quickly scrolled back to the beginning. The text messages said: “phone under cedar here; pw = your office address with caps,” “corruption at WB,” “collected docs, spreadsheet & video,” and “can’t fit pieces together.” The subsequent texts wer