BREATHE by Annabelle Wolf


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In Wolf’s debut novel, an Israeli woman tries to forget her past as she pursues a career as an undercover Mossad operative.

What’s the statute of limitations on grief? For Dani, five years is still not enough to erase the memory of Dylan, her gorgeous, intelligent husband; he and her infant son, Kieran, were killed in a car accident that she survived. After she recovered from her physical wounds, she spent the next several years training in the Israeli special forces, becoming an expert on information gathering, motorcycle riding and surviving enemy torture. Unfortunately, the demanding work doesn’t heal her but only helps her ignore her true needs. On one of her first vacations, she decides to track down a film star named Troy Morel who looks just like her late husband; it’s part of her plan to say a ritual “goodbye” to Dylan. Will Dani be able to let go of her pain, or will seeing her husband’s suave doppelgänger only make it worse? Wolf’s novel is competently written, with a thrillerlike pace that makes it easy to read. It’s not concise, however, often using two sentences when one will do: “I drove my rented Land Rover into the quaint village of Saint-Sébastien just as the hot summer sun was setting behind me. It was lit by warm gold and orange light.” The novel skirts genres by integrating multiple, seemingly disparate threads; it’s as much a book about spying and deception as it is about emotional vulnerability and romance. This makes the story unusual, even if some scenarios stretch believability at times. Its genres are also frequently at odds with each other; as a romance, readers may want to see more of Dani’s emotional side, and as a thriller, they may want to see more of her take-no-prisoners approach. Wolf’s choice to integrate these elements creates a heroine who feels very divided, which makes for an inventive, if not entirely satisfying, book.

An occasionally implausible romantic spy thriller that delves into the complexity and power of grief.

Pub Date: April 21st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0991591800
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Annabelle
Program: Kirkus Indie
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