In Turner’s debut novel, career CIA agent Kat Hastings uncovers the shocking truth behind John F. Kennedy’s assassination and confronts her own troubled relationship with her father.
Kat Hastings is pushing 60 and yet still finds herself doing the bidding of her boss, Ben, and her emotionally unavailable spy father, the cryptically named H2. The former wants her to explore a CIA vault that supposedly contains secrets relating to JFK’s assassination, while the latter wants her to refrain from exploring her passions. She obeys both men, until she realizes just how potentially revolutionary each discovery could be. She uncovers JFK’s brain in a canister, and finds a renewed passion for former lover and investigative reporter Robbie. Her allegiance to her rigid code of conduct is tested to the limit; she even flat-out lies to her supervisor about sharing information with Robbie, ruining an otherwise unblemished service record. Much like the Tom Clancy canon, the novel purposefully employs a patriotic, dedicated protagonist to deepen the shock of her discovery of corruption. Turner’s heavily researched conjectures on the assassination and its subsequent effect on the national psyche are thought-provoking, if not necessarily original. More surprising is how vividly Turner realizes her characters, at least for most of the book. Robbie, for example, is quickly fleshed out in only a few sentences: “ ‘My wife died.’ He traced his scar. His pain seemed fresh. For the first time, I noticed the years etched into his face.” The novel’s final third, however, devolves into a jumble of false confidences and hidden identities, along with torture and double crosses. However, the author demonstrates a solid grasp of community dynamics and the often disappointing complexity of adult relationships. Her prose reveals a softness with a noirish, Chandler-esque edge: “He could be as cold, hard, and secretive as the file cabinets that flanked him.” Readers seeking a somber yet probing inquiry into the limits of romance, duty and renewal late in life will relish Kat’s attempts to balance the needs of her heart with the realities of national security.
An often entertaining read about political corruption, romance and hope for a better future.