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Red, White, Blue

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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 ab 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.


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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 ab 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.

30 review for Red, White, Blue

  1. 4 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    “When you lose someone you love, you only want to be around the people who loved him, too…” Anna is a woman in her mid-thirties trying to deal with the scope of her father’s death, which makes every passage relevant to her story of love and grief. She is a luminous and compelling figure, whose father, Noel, a former CIA operative, died on the eve of her wedding, literally (and then the wedding was delayed). She seeks answers and a truth to the lacunae of her life. But like the design of the CIA o “When you lose someone you love, you only want to be around the people who loved him, too…” Anna is a woman in her mid-thirties trying to deal with the scope of her father’s death, which makes every passage relevant to her story of love and grief. She is a luminous and compelling figure, whose father, Noel, a former CIA operative, died on the eve of her wedding, literally (and then the wedding was delayed). She seeks answers and a truth to the lacunae of her life. But like the design of the CIA operative, these truths are often buried in a nesting-doll assembly, with many layers and classifications that are formidable to access. Carpenter’s new book feels very intimate, despite its existential, non-linear style of time, action, memories, and reflections. The answers for the reader are often in the narrative juxtapositions, and in the book’s considerable white spaces between passages. The text fluctuates, and in lesser hands would be inchoate, but Anna is so central to all the facets of story that I always felt grounded in her character. It can jump to a father’s lesson on koans to a section on China Ops and yet there is a tensile thread that keeps it all from being desultory. There isn’t one excess word or event in this book. After her father dies, Anna receives a USB in the mail from her father’s close friend, a colleague in the CIA. Anna feels a kinship with this man, who also loved Noel (like a father). On the USB are videos that don’t coalesce at first, but contain an overarching motif that parallel Anna’s questions and answers. There’s a section on the “parlor trick” of polygraphs; the matter of China; a woman important to Noel (Anna’s father) and the unnamed sender, and a running story of their work, or its climax. And, a running leitmotif is a video called “Rooms,” that reveals rooms, or compartments, on the question of Heaven and God, but also understanding and forgiveness. These are pieces of the whole picture that Anna ponders, and the narrative returns to these rooms and also compiles other seemingly arbitrary ideas that are actually germane to Anna’s quest. Memories of cooking with her beloved father, or discussing philosophical ideas with him, and life lessons he imparted to her. This absorbing novel reads equally like an unfinished memoir and an unfinished spy/CIA story, yet complete in the transaction between author and reader. I closed the book satisfied, and realized that part of the narrative’s purpose was for Anna to just keep digging for meaning in the disparate strands of her life, the loose jigsaw pieces that yet contain connective tissue. And how, through those connections, she can finally feel whole and also part of that larger life outside herself. The epigraph of Red, White, Blue is from an essay written by Norman Mailer, an obvious precursor to his masterpiece of the psychology and sociology of the CIA (and it is evident that Carpenter read the book). She quotes from Mailer: “We do not know which of our facts are bricks and which are papier-mâché painted to look like bricks.” “We will not get the goods so quickly as we will learn how to construct a model which will tell us why we cannot get the goods.” I don’t often quote from the epigraph of a novel, but in Carpenter’s theme, it seems pertinent to understand that the characters here are grappling with the limits of knowledge and how the art and aesthetics of deception can be proximate to truth, (and, it isn’t too much of a leap to consider how it may annex the truth). “If you are not comfortable with hypocrisy you can leave right now” is one determining factor of job fitness as a CIA agent. “The truth will set you free…” “…if the truth approves of your exit plan.” Welcome to the CIA, and to life—full of paradoxes. If you enjoy a good paradox, or several, as part of the mining process to understanding, then you’ll laud the poignancy of this masterful, astonishing novel. Exploring and examining grief, loss, and love side by side with the CIA is ambitious, and fully realized here. And, for me, Anna will remain unforgettable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. But what is the truth? The characters in Red, White, Blue only have an elusive grasp on it. And by the end of the book, you may as well. Red, White, Blue is an extraordinary book—a spy book that eschews the typical plot-driven, adventure-fueled formula and focuses on a CIA operative—namely, Noel, who died in a skiing accident in Switzerland, the day before his daughter Anna’s wedding—with fresh eyes. What kind of operative, the book And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. But what is the truth? The characters in Red, White, Blue only have an elusive grasp on it. And by the end of the book, you may as well. Red, White, Blue is an extraordinary book—a spy book that eschews the typical plot-driven, adventure-fueled formula and focuses on a CIA operative—namely, Noel, who died in a skiing accident in Switzerland, the day before his daughter Anna’s wedding—with fresh eyes. What kind of operative, the book asks, is drawn to the absence of trust in the presence of danger? Narrated in alternating chapters—Anna in the third-person and a first-person narration of the nameless CIA agent and author of a package of videos and recordings sent to Anna—we learn that during the time of his death, Noel was at the center of an interrogation for unofficially exfiltrating a woman named Veritas, a Chinese double agent who was his own asset. Anna, who is now married to a music producer, wishes to get to the truth. The truth, however, is elusive. The strength of this book is that it exposes the often bizarre and esoteric culture of intelligence work. Take this line, for example: “The Farm is about buying into the idea that not one, but all of those nesting dolls are you. The ability to inhabit all of them without doubt is essential to survival.” The insights are so precise and authentic that it is hard to believe that Lea Carpenter was not a CIA operative herself, attesting to her strength as a writer. This is not a book that will tie up all the details and hand them over to the reader in a neat red bow. Its purpose is not to set up a situation and then solve it; rather, its purpose is to explore the fuzzy morality of secretive work and how, eventually, the duplicity affects one’s own sense of identity and the sense of identity of those he holds closest. When I closed the pages, I began to question the characters I had just spent a few days with: were other characters who were portrayed as outsiders secretly CIA? Did everything unfold precisely as it was portrayed? Those who are not comfortable with ambiguity may not enjoy this but for me, it earns strong five stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lins

    Lovers of the TV shows “Homeland” and “The Americans” take heed! This novel is for you! “Red, White, Blue” by Lea Carpenter, revolves around Anna. Anna’s father, Noel was a CIA operative. Anna’s mother, Lulu, left them when Anna was six. The structure of the novel involves two narratives; one from an unnamed (male) former colleague of Noel’s who is telling Anna the “story” of her father. The other is an omniscient point of view of Anna’s life. The structure works beautifully for Carpenter’s myste Lovers of the TV shows “Homeland” and “The Americans” take heed! This novel is for you! “Red, White, Blue” by Lea Carpenter, revolves around Anna. Anna’s father, Noel was a CIA operative. Anna’s mother, Lulu, left them when Anna was six. The structure of the novel involves two narratives; one from an unnamed (male) former colleague of Noel’s who is telling Anna the “story” of her father. The other is an omniscient point of view of Anna’s life. The structure works beautifully for Carpenter’s mysterious and moody tale, and the switching back and forth is clean and provides for a perfectly paced story to unfold. Much of the enjoyment of the novel is the “inside baseball” information about the CIA. In the afterward Carpenter states that she was given absolutely no classified information, so presumably she built her story on information that she found in, what seems to be, painstakingly detailed research. The strong feeling of authenticity certainly enhances the novel and the reader’s experience, while some of the information and political descriptions regarding China are often disturbing. Carpenter skillfully sets up a central mystery regarding Noel, which challenges Anna’s beliefs and memories about him. The propulsive narrative’s short sections sweeps the reader up in the suspense and intrigue just as a well-done film or TV show does for a viewer. I’m not sure that the plot is more important than the “tone” and “mood” of the novel, but I will say that the ending does not clarify everything, and not all readers will be comfortable with that.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    Noel's only daughter Anna mourns his loss. At the opening of the book, we know Noel has died shortly after Anna gets married. What then occurs in the book is Anna unfolds the story of Noel and her mother and of her own life. The story is non-linear, but this worked for me. I found the narrative interesting and engaging. Anna's character is, in some ways, unreliable as she holds her father high above everyone else in her life - including her husband. In subtle ways, I found the relationship betwe Noel's only daughter Anna mourns his loss. At the opening of the book, we know Noel has died shortly after Anna gets married. What then occurs in the book is Anna unfolds the story of Noel and her mother and of her own life. The story is non-linear, but this worked for me. I found the narrative interesting and engaging. Anna's character is, in some ways, unreliable as she holds her father high above everyone else in her life - including her husband. In subtle ways, I found the relationship between Anna and her husband a bit unrealistic, but I liked the interaction and found the two together endearing. Carpenter wrote Eleven Days which I really liked. She is creative with structure which is something I enjoyed. I'll definitely seek out her writing in the future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelsie

    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 in 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Advanced copy through Penguin Press' First to Read program. I could not get into this book. It was very difficult to follow and confusing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    So disappointing! I could not get into the author's style of writing at all and gave up in frustration. I'm surprised that Library Journal gave it such a good review. Not my cup of tea at all. Too many other books I could be reading!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bent Hansen

    Very cleverly and well written untraditional spy story with two main plot lines being woven intricately together throughout the book. Lea Carpenter 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 Very cleverly and well written untraditional spy story with two main plot lines being woven intricately together throughout the book. Lea Carpenter 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. [An ARC of the book was generously provided by the publisher through the First to Read program in exchange for an honest review]

  10. 4 out of 5

    LadyTechie

    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 re 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.blogspo....

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I’d say the assertion that this is a good readalike for fans of The Americans is a good one. A cerebral and slow-moving yet totally absorbing story with lots of intriguing espionage details.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kris Morahan

    Disappointing. It’s an espionage novel where noting actually happens.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beliz

    Everybody thinks it's bad so I do, too!!!! Stay away from this book!!!!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maryann

    I enjoyed the structure of the book with it's short chapter flow. However, I kept waiting for "something to happen", but it never did. And the ending....I have no idea what that was about. I wish someone would clarify it for me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    pretentious

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Campbell

    I can't imagine a more emotionally opaque novel. It's an appropriate approach to spying & tradecraft, and as the secrets within unfold you can't be blamed for finding them secondary to the ripple effect of intelligence gathering across generations. As a kid I read a lot of Follett and Ludlum and the like; where those were enjoyable, Red White Blue is credible and sobering. I wouldn't push it on every reader but if you like a good spy novel you should stick with this one. Ms. Carpenter communi I can't imagine a more emotionally opaque novel. It's an appropriate approach to spying & tradecraft, and as the secrets within unfold you can't be blamed for finding them secondary to the ripple effect of intelligence gathering across generations. As a kid I read a lot of Follett and Ludlum and the like; where those were enjoyable, Red White Blue is credible and sobering. I wouldn't push it on every reader but if you like a good spy novel you should stick with this one. Ms. Carpenter communicates the reality more than the genre and she doesn't care to spell it all out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Uhhhh..... So I reserved this book via the publisher's First to Read program after hearing a fair amount of buzz about it, and seeing it listed on "Best of Summer" lists. I am utterly and totally confused. Did I read the wrong book? Don't get me wrong, the description of is roughly correct - secrets, spies, CIA, etc, but I would beg to say that there is ZERO content. Zero as in basically nothing happens at all in this entire novel. (Perhaps the clouds on the jacket were a subliminal warning that Uhhhh..... So I reserved this book via the publisher's First to Read program after hearing a fair amount of buzz about it, and seeing it listed on "Best of Summer" lists. I am utterly and totally confused. Did I read the wrong book? Don't get me wrong, the description of is roughly correct - secrets, spies, CIA, etc, but I would beg to say that there is ZERO content. Zero as in basically nothing happens at all in this entire novel. (Perhaps the clouds on the jacket were a subliminal warning that there was nothing between the covers?) I almost didn't finish it, but found myself plodding on in the hopes that something that would happen or explain what it was that I just read. While I give it 2 stars for the writing (which actually wasn't that bad), I really would not recommend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    A. S.

    “Red, White, Blue” by Lea Carpenter follows Anna, a middle aged daughter of Noel, a CIA case officer in the Asia division who worked with a sensitive female asset in China, before seemingly retiring and getting killed in a Swiss avalanche the day before Anna’s wedding. Afterwards, Anna receives a recording in the mail of her father undergoing interrogation shortly beforehand. The mystery of what exactly happened to him is on Anna’s mind a lot, even as she goes through with the wedding to a music “Red, White, Blue” by Lea Carpenter follows Anna, a middle aged daughter of Noel, a CIA case officer in the Asia division who worked with a sensitive female asset in China, before seemingly retiring and getting killed in a Swiss avalanche the day before Anna’s wedding. Afterwards, Anna receives a recording in the mail of her father undergoing interrogation shortly beforehand. The mystery of what exactly happened to him is on Anna’s mind a lot, even as she goes through with the wedding to a music producer. Then she meets a suspicious man during their honeymoon—who she suspects is somehow related to her father’s work. But it is when her husband sells his company and does a complete career turnaround—deciding to run for a senate seat instead—that Anna’s father’s past comes back to her once and for all, as special agents keep questioning her with a single question in their mind: her father’s potential connections to the Chinese and what Anna knows about him and the individuals involved. Anna’s third person narrative is intertwined with that of her father’s friend, who addresses Anna through his letters to explain the environment that he and her father worked in as CIA employees—an atmosphere of secrecy and constant polygraphs, with lives on the line despite even the most careful planning. Throughout the book, Anna’s life as a civilian is an interesting contrast to that of her father the professional, with the two narratives sharply differing. Her father seems to court danger, while she does her best to avoid it. It’s clear the author had done a lot of research into the intelligence community, and the plot is rather thoughtful. Not a mystery necessarily, but more of a reflection on how one can never really escape the past.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    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 tryi 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shekenah

    **I was able to read this as part of the Penguin First to Read program** 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 no **I was able to read this as part of the Penguin First to Read program** 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.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    On the eve of her wedding, Anna, beloved by her father and abandoned by her mother, loses her father in a skiing accident. Soon, with the man’s protégé missing, rumors surface that Noel was a spy for the Chinese. In France for her honeymoon, she meets a stranger who once worked with Noel, a man who shares information about her father. Soon Anna is in search of an elusive truth. But what is the truth, and what will it mean for Anna’s quest to understand her father? Told in short chapters, the narr On the eve of her wedding, Anna, beloved by her father and abandoned by her mother, loses her father in a skiing accident. Soon, with the man’s protégé missing, rumors surface that Noel was a spy for the Chinese. In France for her honeymoon, she meets a stranger who once worked with Noel, a man who shares information about her father. Soon Anna is in search of an elusive truth. But what is the truth, and what will it mean for Anna’s quest to understand her father? Told in short chapters, the narrative moves along at a brisk pace. Alternately narrated by a CIA college of Noel’s and by Anna herself, this tale of espionage holds a plethora of reflections and reminders of the past, often reading more like a memoir than a spy thriller. Peopled with well-developed characters and filled with unexpected reveals, the mood of the narrative is sure to pull the reader into the telling of the tale.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I don't usually read crime novels or thrillers, but this one was unusual and captured my attention. It was difficult to know who was talking and it took a while after I read it to put the pieces of the puzzle together, not that all the pieces were there to use. There is an ambiguity to the ending and I keep thinking about it. Anna is the perfect wife to a political candidate, but his character is too good to be true. Still, I was invested in their marriage. His run for office is set against the I don't usually read crime novels or thrillers, but this one was unusual and captured my attention. It was difficult to know who was talking and it took a while after I read it to put the pieces of the puzzle together, not that all the pieces were there to use. There is an ambiguity to the ending and I keep thinking about it. Anna is the perfect wife to a political candidate, but his character is too good to be true. Still, I was invested in their marriage. His run for office is set against the possible bombshell that someone in her family was a spy for China. She learns the "truth"about her father's secret life and must come to terms with the fact he was not exactly who she thought he was; he was still a wonderful person, however. I keep wondering how she decided to keep some secrets from the CIA and who this CIA gentleman was that told her all about her father...many questions...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I'm trying to think of a time i was more bored than i was while reading this book....nothing comes to mind. i know Red White, Blue was billed as an unconventional espionage novel but i just found the whole thing uninteresting and the main character in the story, anna, a bit stale. i understand most novels in this genre tend to spoon-feed readers with outlandish details and that in this book the author wanted more subtly. but the lack of context and character development didn't give me anything t I'm trying to think of a time i was more bored than i was while reading this book....nothing comes to mind. i know Red White, Blue was billed as an unconventional espionage novel but i just found the whole thing uninteresting and the main character in the story, anna, a bit stale. i understand most novels in this genre tend to spoon-feed readers with outlandish details and that in this book the author wanted more subtly. but the lack of context and character development didn't give me anything to invest in as a reader. i never felt compelled or curious to find out what happens next in the story because none of the characters were that interesting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paula Lyle

    "Vulnerability is a choice." I have always loved spy novels. They speak of our deepest commitments, to country, to family, to self. They walk a fine line between loyalty and something else, which is not necessarily disloyalty. What happens when that line is moved? What happens when it is done retroactively? What happens when we move the line? Where are we left? I finished the book last night and when I woke I started reading it again. Not straight through, but bits and pieces here and there. To me "Vulnerability is a choice." I have always loved spy novels. They speak of our deepest commitments, to country, to family, to self. They walk a fine line between loyalty and something else, which is not necessarily disloyalty. What happens when that line is moved? What happens when it is done retroactively? What happens when we move the line? Where are we left? I finished the book last night and when I woke I started reading it again. Not straight through, but bits and pieces here and there. To me, this book is about love. Who do we love? How do we love? Is it really possible to love a country? Should we love people more or less? Stunning.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Carlson

    Screenwriter, contributing editor at Esquire, author Lea Carpenter's efforts in Red, White, Blue is a bit bewildering. It's really tough to get past the writing style in this book which is going to put off many. It begins with a subject/chapter followed by a few paragraphs, then a new section or chapter entitled Q. A. I love the subject of this book which is about a woman learning about her father's involvement with the CIA but again the narrative style left me cold. I will check out her previou Screenwriter, contributing editor at Esquire, author Lea Carpenter's efforts in Red, White, Blue is a bit bewildering. It's really tough to get past the writing style in this book which is going to put off many. It begins with a subject/chapter followed by a few paragraphs, then a new section or chapter entitled Q. A. I love the subject of this book which is about a woman learning about her father's involvement with the CIA but again the narrative style left me cold. I will check out her previous work entitled Eleven Days.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    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. I would like to thank First to Read for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Jo

    How this book was written was much more appealing than the actual plot. We have the “actual “story told with alternating chapters involving a Q and A session. I suspect under all of it there was some spy craft, espionage, and covert operations. Unfortunately, I was not really able to care much about the characters are the plot. It happens, if you read enough, you’re bound to find a book that you not 100% happy with.

  28. 4 out of 5

    LibrarianJennifer

    This novel takes on the traditional spy thriller in a new style. One sentence synopsis: A mystery man slowly unpeels CIA career of Anna's beloved father. This book was a quick read, but was not short on character depth. While this format was not what I was initially expecting, the author masterfully utilizes alternating between narrators and jumps in time. Would recommend for readers looking for a bit more of a challenge from their average spy stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    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 n 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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    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.

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