Mata Hari is Fat by Jitterbug Jones

Mata Hari is Fat

An Allegory for Our Times
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Decades after her teenage affair with a president-to-be, a woman dodges politicos and terrorists in Jones’ debut satire.

U.S. Sen. Marcus Maitland has 45-year-old research attorney Lily Gentille and former U.S. president Harrison G. Huntley III in his cross hairs after he gets hold of a partially redacted classified document that apparently exposes their secret affair. More than 25 years earlier, Lily was a high school senior on a Washington, D.C., trip with her class. In a hotel lobby, she found herself in the vicinity of two men discussing an illegal fundraising scheme. One of these men, Maj. Gen. Dudley Peyton, was sure that she heard something essential, so he showed up later at Lily’s house in Hamilton Springs (a suburb in the nearby, fictional state of Franklin), posing as a repairman. While he was there, Lily got her hands on one of his incriminating documents. Now, it seemed, everyone believed that she had important information. She became a “target teenager,” watched by some government operatives, approached by others—which ultimately led to her having a sexual relationship with then-60-year-old Secretary of Diplomatic Services Huntley. Soon, everyone is focusing on this dalliance, even after Huntley’s presidency ends. Lily, who calls herself “just a girl with crappy karma,” spends years enduring abductions and assaults and even embarks on another affair. Jones’ tale is jam-packed with plot and often feels like a sprint. But although it sets an impressive pace, it sometimes skimps on detail; Lily recalls random attacks by terrorists in sections that seem like mere snippets, for example. It’s clear that Lily is special, as she has the ability to fly (and land) a jet and also possesses fighting skills apparently derived from exercise videos; however, it’s never explained why she doesn’t understand the concern over her relationship with an ex-president. Jones’ satirical angle is sublimely understated, as when characters seem more concerned about Lily being a president’s lover than the fact that she’s an “accidental spy.” The protagonist is also humbly sentimental at times, seeing her love for the current man in her life as perhaps her greatest achievement.

A biting lampoon of espionage and politics that’s sometimes perplexing but always delightful.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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