The author brings us a carefully contrived story about the CIA. It is not a normal novel utilizing distinctively good and bad characters but framed in a context that shows real life shades of gray.
Anna is the only child of the marriage of Lulu and Noel and early on was subjected to the disappearance of her mother who deserted her husband as well as Anna. Noel was a dynamic individual working as a banker who mysteriously dies in a skiing accident in Switzerland on the day before Anna was to be married. Later, on her honeymoon she meets, apparently by chance, a stranger who had somehow worked with Noel in the past and had information about him. Later Anna receives a mysterious package that contains recordings and videos that show Noel in the midst of a brutal interrogation. Everything that Anna thought she knew about her father’s life and death is now called into question.
Carpenter’s style of moving back and forth between people in her narrative lend an almost stream of consciousness aspect to the novel which draws the reader into the apparent inner workings of the CIA, its good and bad, and the fact that there are different motivations involved. A China operation goes wrong and blame for it winds through the layers of management and personnel.
The book draws in the reader who easily follows the shifts in events and people. While Carpenter, in an afterward, tells us that she received no information from the CIA, the style of the book and the way it unfolds would seem to belie this. Basically it is because the novel tells the story as it would possibly occur in real life where not everything is black and white. A very fascinating read done in a style that is unique creating a novel that is a draw to most of its readers.
9/18 Paul Lane
RED WHITE BLUE by Lea Carpenter. Knopf; First Edition edition (August 21, 2018). ISBN 978-1524732141. 320p.