Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Fiction Review: Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery

In anticipation of Booktopia 2020 (cancelled, of course), I read Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht back in February this year. Last month, I read the sequel, Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery, and loved it even more than the first book! This unique 60's girl-spy series is fun and suspenseful.

In the first book, we followed Vera's brief spy career as a CIA operative in Argentina in 1966. A knowledge of history (not a spoiler!) will tell you that that assignment ends with a violent coup. Now, Vera is out of the CIA and living back in New York with her girlfriend, and she's still only in her 20's. In an ironic twist, her girlfriend leaves her and she also gets fired from her job at the radio station ... because she is suspected of having a girlfriend (being a lesbian was not much tolerated back in the 60's). In her apartment alone and without a source of income, Vera sets up her own little private investigator business. At first, she is bored by the string of spouse-surveillance cases, but she needs the money. Finally, an interesting case comes to her office: Mr. and Mrs. Ibarra, a man and woman from the Dominican Republic, are looking for their great-nephew. His parents were sent to prison during the revolution there, and their son, Felix, was sent to the United States to keep him safe. He was being cared for by an older woman, but when she died suddenly, Felix disappeared. His great-uncle and -aunt are anxious to find him again. Vera begins investigating, leading her through the foster care system and eventually, to the Dominican Republic itself, where her counterintelligence training comes in handy.

Rosalie Knecht has created a wonderful character in Vera; she's a strong, independent, smart woman living in a time when those traits were not appreciated in females. Despite these being spy novels, they are also character studies. In the first novel, we learn all about Vera's childhood and how she ended up becoming a spy in her early 20's. Here, we get an inside look into Vera's private life, as one relationship falls apart and she wonders whether to pursue a new one. But it is also a detective novel, with a twisty mystery at its center, providing action-packed suspense with a sense of humor. Reading these books is pure pleasure, and I enjoyed the second Vera Kelly installment even more than the first. I can't wait to see what's in store for Vera next!

249 pages, Tin House Books
Audio, Blackstone Publishing

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.

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  1. This one and the first in the series both sound good. You know I like a book with an international connection!

    1. These books are GREAT for reading around the world challenges, Helen - so far, they've been set in some places I've rarely read about. And they are such fun!