I have a basic policy of reading and reviewing books by friends or acquaintances; even if only the friendship is an online one. Today, I realized that last year I read a book by a longtime friend and never reviewed it. In my defense, last year I started a new job, bought a house, and moved to a new town. But still I felt bad when this came to mind today, so I decided to rectify my error.
I have known Jim Geraghty for quite a while and have even met him in person. We go way back into the golden age of blogging. Jim is an excellent journalist and has really established a reputation during the pandemic as a voice of reason and information. If you are interested in politics/public affairs I recommend The Morning Jolt.
So when Jim published Between Two Scorpions I grabbed a copy and read it.
A long dormant CIA asset emerges from hiding to request a meeting with his former handler, the beautiful, enigmatic intelligence operative Katrina Leonidivna. She’s skeptical that the source, a shady arms dealer, is on the level. But when Katrina barely escapes with her life after an explosion rips through the café where they met, she’s forced to take his tip seriously. Alongside her husband, Alec Flanagan, and a rogue crew of covert agents from every corner of the intelligence community, Katrina races around the globe to uncover the truth.
What this dangerous clique of operatives discover is a plot that could rip America apart from the inside. A plot that pits neighbors against one another and turns everyone into a potential threat. A plot that could make anyone take up arms against their own country. A plot that Katrina, Alec, and the rest of their crew have to stop before it’s too late. But when everyone is a suspect, no one is safe and the entire nation is under suspicion. Hot on the trail of a terror cell capable of turning anyone—and everyone—into a deranged killer, only this dangerous clique of spies has a chance to stop the terrorists from weaponizing America’s greatest asset—freedom.
As long as we are confessing, I also failed to read Jim’s novel The Weed Agency so this is my first experience with his fiction, having read his journalism near daily for years.
I don’t think I will hurt Jim’s feeling by saying BTS has some elements common to new fiction authors and first books in a series. Despite the explosive start, literally, it takes awhile for the book to get going and not all of the characters are all that flushed out. This is also just part of the genre, however, as I have noted when reading books from book-a-year type established authors. There is always a tension between action and color and character development.
But I also think Jim would acknowledge he isn’t going for a literary novel, but for an interesting twist on the espionage thriller, and once the plot gets rolling this is a perfect summer read. Lots of action, political intrigue, international travel and culture (something Jim knows quite a bit about having lived in Turkey and reported on international affairs) and good-natured humor/banter between the husband and wife team; with the wife in the lead for a change. There is a hint of the paranormal/spiritual as well which adds to the mystery and foreboding.
Speaking of that, the disturbing part of the story is how the terrorist plot involves using the freedom America provides, and its own citizens, against it. In our time of pandemic and social unrest this aspect seems even more troubling and unnerving. It is all too plausible and therefor uncomfortable.
Between Two Scorpions is a quick read and at less than $4 what do you have to lose? If you need something to spice up your summer reading, check it out. I know I look forward to seeing how Jim builds on the strengths of this first A Dangerous Clique book and where the series goes from here.