RaveThe New York Review of BooksThat whispered-about legend she became during the war years in occupied France deserves to be loudly celebrated now ... Sonia Purnell’s excellent biography should help make that happen. If Virginia Hall herself remains something of an enigma — a testament, perhaps, to the skills that allowed her to live in the shadows for so long — the extraordinary facts of her life are brought onto the page here with a well-judged balance of empathy and fine detail. This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"It’s a relief... that Lauren Wilkinson’s American Spy, while embracing ambitions and concerns that don’t always figure highly in the spy genre, is first and foremost a thriller ... Plenty to enjoy on its own terms, then, as a slick, well-observed thriller, but what adds depth are the perspectives offered by the central character ... challenging boundaries is what brave fiction does, and Wilkinson proves confident enough to carry it off. For a debut novel it’s remarkably assured, earning its genre stripes with panache, and addressing thought-provoking issues along the way.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewLea Carpenter’s Red, White, Blue is...less an unfolding story than a series of set pieces, using—rehearsing might be a better word—some of the tropes of the spy thriller. There’s nothing new about this: Many a self-consciously literary novelist has dipped a toe in the genre in order to examine themes of identity, betrayal, duplicity and so on. Few, though, have skated quite so lightly over the surface of the world they’re borrowing ... What the threads have in common is a kind of dreamlike, affectless prose that effectively nulls characterization ... And the individual sections are, if anything, overcrafted, each straining for its own little epiphany ... Narrative scaffolding, indeed, is conspicuous by its absence throughout, and while we’re told at one point that \'the order in which we receive facts matters,\' this isn’t borne out by the text, many of whose sections could be rearranged without fracturing the story. And yet, it weaves a spell. Though mannered and elliptical throughout, it’s more readable than those qualities usually herald, and in the end there’s something hypnotic about its stately, confessional prose. I’d hesitate to classify it as a spy novel, because it pretty clearly doesn’t want to get grubby. No: It’s a novel in which some of the characters are identified as spies. But in its contemplation of different kinds of lost innocence, it’s also pondering the fall.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis novel stumbles at the outset ... But that bump in the road having been negotiated, what follows is a smooth ride, a novel belying its historical origins with a #MeToo slant ... The narrative choreography demanded by Fesperman’s split timelines is expertly handled, and... illustrates the kind of weight that the spy novel, in the right hands, is capable of bearing.