cover image The Peacock and the Sparrow

The Peacock and the Sparrow

I.S. Berry. Atria, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9821-9454-3

Berry’s stint as a CIA officer lends a palpable veracity to this outstanding debut thriller. In 2012, 52-year-old CIA veteran Shane Collins is assigned to Bahrain’s capital city of Manama during the Arab Spring uprisings there. His career is circling the drain, but his young station chief, Whitney Mitchell, is a star on the rise. In order to collect information that proves Iran is fueling the local revolution, Collins has riskily embedded a local agent in a volatile rebel group. Then Collins attends a gala where he’s struck by a massive mosaic and again by the beautiful artist who created it, Almaisa. Shane begins a lengthy pursuit of Almaisa, and before long, he’s juggling new love, a budding conscience about his work, and bloody complications with his revolutionary informant. The plot’s many twists will captivate readers, and Berry’s gorgeous prose is its own reward, with echoes of Le Carré and Graham Greene: “Wind whistled through the fortress like the laughing dead.” This auspicious first outing marks Berry as a writer to watch. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (May)