A Woman of Intelligence

Karin Tanabe. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-23150-5
Tanabe (A Hundred Suns) returns with a layered and engrossing Cold War historical. In 1954, Rina Edgeworth is a surgeon’s wife and full-time mother living on the Upper East Side, her free-spirited life as a French translator for the United Nations a distant memory. One day, FBI agent Lee Coldwell recruits her to serve as an informant on her former lover, Jacob Gornev, whom she knew in her university days and whom Coldwell explains is now spying for the KGB. Under the tutelage of magnetic Black agent Turner Wells, who met Jacob in a radical civil rights group Wells had infiltrated, Rina’s first nerve-wracking assignment is to contact Jacob, so she can intercept stolen documents in place of Jacob’s sometime girlfriend, Ava Newman, who has been a courier for Jacob’s ring of Soviet spies. Rina’s husband, Tom, meanwhile, thinks she’s having an affair and threatens her with psychiatric treatment. Her friends, her mission, and Wells, though, prove to be her saving grace. In addition to spotlighting 1950s attitudes toward gender and efforts to bring forth racial equality, Tanabe injects plenty of credible period details such as John Foster Dulles frostily refusing to shake hands with Chou En-Lai in Geneva, and depicts the Communist characters with humanity against the chilling backdrop of mutually assured destruction. This would be perfect for a film or TV series. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/16/2021
Release date: 07/20/2021
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-80227-9
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