Seven-Sided Spy by Hannah Carmack
Published by NineStar Press on January 15, 2018 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, action, historical fiction, science fiction, thriller
Format & Pages: e-book, 201
Find on Goodreads
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.
But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.
The concept of Seven-Sided Spy is incredibly intriguing – a team of CIA spies who are taken in by the KGB for illegal experimentation? Sounds like Mission: Impossible meets X-Men, and I’m a fan of both movies, so this seemed right up my alley!
Carmack tried to do a lot with her debut novel. Between a highly diverse cast, plenty of flashbacks, a historical setting, and an exploration of grey morality, there was a lot going on in this story. Let’s break it down.
Although the blurb implies a focus on the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, there are actually several main characters, all with code names, their own desires, and flashbacks to their past. This added extra complexity that, on one hand helped to keep the story moving, but on the other made it confusing to follow at times, making me pause to get my bearings on multiple occasions. And out of the bunch, Diana seemed to be the least fleshed out, which was a bit disappointing as I would have liked to know more of her story. Additionally, the historical setting of the cold war felt a bit glossed over. If the few scenes mentioning events from that time were removed, I could have imagined this taking place today. Some extra depth and detail on that front would have helped to root the story in its time frame.
The writing itself in Seven-Sided Spy was quite capable. It flowed well and was easy for me to picture the characters and their surroundings. The action scenes were fast but also easy to follow. A dry humor helped to offset some of the more serious themes and generally lighten the mood. And there were several references to popular books as some of the characters enjoy reading, which added a nice personal touch that I really enjoyed.
This may not be my top pick of the year but I did like Seven-Sided Spy and find myself still thinking about it days after finishing it. Carmack’s work shows promise and I’m curious to see what she does next.
*Thanks to the author for providing an advance copy of this edition in exchange for an honest review.