[Wilkinson's] first novel starts off with a literal bang, and never once lets up. American Spy is a beautifully paced spy thriller as well as a promising debut from a writer who's not content to rely on the settled tropes of any literary genre ... Wilkinson packs a lot of plot into American Spy ... But Wilkinson handles the several threads in the novel deftly, and she has a real gift for pacing — never once does the book flag or get bogged down, and it's never needlessly complex or confusing ... Wilkinson doesn't shy away from the moral ambiguity of American adventurism in the 1980s, and neither does her unforgettable narrator ... American Spy works on so many levels — it's an expertly written spy thriller as well as a deeply intelligent literary novel that tackles issues of politics, race and gender in a way that's never even close to being heavy-handed or didactic. Above all, it's just so much fun to read ... [American Spy] marks the debut of an immensely talented writer who's refreshingly unafraid to take risks, and has the skills to make those risks pay off.
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.
Lauren Wilkinson’s new novel, American Spy, is extraordinary in a lot of ways — most obviously because it places a female African American intelligence officer, Marie Mitchell, at the center of a Cold War tale of political espionage. But also striking is the novel’s deeper recognition that, to some extent, rudimentary tradecraft is something all of her African American characters have learned as an everyday survival skill ... Wilkinson begins with a tense opening that assures readers that American Spy will try its best to deliver action along with edification ... American Spy is a morally nuanced and atmospheric political thriller.