In Allcut’s debut Christian-themed thriller, a widow believes that her late husband, an FBI agent near retirement, has faked his death, possibly for a Special Forces operation.
Bootsie Martini refuses to accept the death of her husband, Gunter, whose boat exploded during a 1987 hurricane in South Carolina but whose body was never found. She thinks the former spy is still alive, but the cops seem certain that Bootsie had something to do with Gunter’s disappearance. Her fingerprints were on gas cans that she filled for the boat, and she failed a polygraph. Bootsie finally gets confirmation on Gunter’s fate when he calls to tell her to make her way to the Soviet Union, where his life may be in danger—for real, this time. The spy novel devotes few pages to actual espionage, opting instead, as the title says, to focus on the spy’s wife. In the first half, Bootsie contends with the cops’ suspicions, while in the second, Bootsie and Gunter reunite in the Soviet Union. The KGB’s distrust of Gunter (supposedly its double agent) and the couple’s attempt to flee the country drive suspense. Christian ideals such as marriage are highlighted: Bootsie questions whether Gunter puts his job before her but is determined to stay with the man she loves. She prays often and avoids cursing. Even readers who aren’t Christian may appreciate Bootsie’s prayers, which become her solace, since she’s mostly alone. Her two daughters have their own lives and families; she’s wary of her friend Bevin’s obvious attraction to Gunter; and small-town gossip has essentially deemed her a murderer. The book does falter with a timeline that’s a bit jumbled: There’s mention of a DVD prior to the format’s existence and an October date given for an event is noted as May in later pages. But Allcut maintains the intrigue—someone follows Bootsie while she’s still in the U.S.; a shady neighbor may be a Russian spy; there’s a plot to assassinate the president—all the way until the shocking ending, which, if another book is in the works, can pass for a cliffhanger.
Preserves its Christian sensibilities without failing to entertain as a thriller.