Henry Bromell, Author . Knopf $24 (416p) ISBN 978-0-375-40684-3

"We grew up in places like Georgetown and Alexandria and Chevy Chase; we were flown in great thumping silver Pan American airplanes all the way to Rome, all the way to Greece, Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Hamra, Cairo; we went to American Community Schools; we spent weekends swimming at the American Club." The "we" in question in this clever, unlikely take on an espionage thriller is that peculiar subgroup of expatriates, the children of American diplomats and spies in their postings around the world in the high-water mark of Pax Americana, the late '50s. Terry Hooper is a historian whose father, Mack Hooper, served as CIA station chief in Hamra, Kurash, in 1958—Kurash, a mythical Mideastern kingdom, collapsed after the unsolved assassination of its king in December 1958. Terry's interest in this distant event is stirred by a news item reporting that the king was, at that time, receiving secret payments from the CIA. Terry's quest to find out what really happened in 1958, and whether, in the direst scenario, his father planned the king's assassination, takes him to Boston to interview his father and his mother; to Georgetown to interview other living members attached to the Hamra station; and finally to Rome, to track down a mysterious "Emily," who Terry suspects was his father's mistress. There are present-day mysteries in the Hooper household, too—for instance, Terry wants to know why his mother and father live in separate apartments. The story has the twists of an espionage thriller wrapped in the rites of a Cheeverish WASP culture of booze, cigarettes and repressed emotion. Bromell (The Slightest Distance), producer of the quirkily literate TV show Northern Exposure, will gratify his fans with this bemused deconstruction of the spy myth. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-375-71891-5
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!