I feel that "Burned" is a bit slow as spy action thrillers go. I read very few of them, haven't tried Vince Flynn nor Lee Child yet, but I imagine that a lot more happens in most of their books. "Burned" is about trying to find a dirty bomb and a mole. There's action in the first few pages, set in Paris, and in the last few, set in Istanbul, but not very much in the intervening pages. Slower than Plame's first book, Blowback. And it sets up Book #3, probably in 12-18 months, but I won't be reading it. I'm not sure why most spy fiction authors feel they must do a mole book. Le Carre's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is the best ever, written 41 years ago, and no one has ever come close to improving on it, including now Ms. Plame. This book feels to me like it was phoned in.
As was true with Valerie Plame's first novel, the descriptions of espionage trade craft appear to be spot on. Plame keeps the prose lively and the plot moving. I would have given the novel five stars, but I want closure at the end of a novel. In both Blowback and Burned Vanessa Pierson's nemesis, Bhoot, avoids capture. I want the villain identified, caught and punished in the last chapter. There are certainly enough nefarious types to go around, no matter how many Vanessa Pierson novels Plame writes. Other than that, great job. I'll buy Plame's next novel when it's published.
I enjoyed it and I've read lots of spy novels and thrillers. Great characterization, believable interaction for agents & analysts, quality story moved along well, I loved the figure-out and connecting the dots. I've read Blowback also - likewise enjoyable. I've also read Valerie's Fair Game book and will be reading her husband's book next. She should feel some small satisfaction writing her book's character who gets more backup support than she did in real life in the same job. Her two fiction books have felt real and heart-felt. Kudos to Sarah Lovett too.
Combine Valerie Plame's insider knowledge of the CIA, international espionage, and the intricacies of nuclear proliferation with Sarah Lovett's track record as an author of thrillers and you have an action-packed, atmospheric, and at times scary yarn. I am not a particular fan of spy fiction, but this was so enjoyable I may have to re-think that. While I'm sure much of the detail that could have been included was prohibited by the CIA, I enjoyed getting a little closer look at the CIA world of "Operations." And as a reluctant traveler, I felt transported to Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna. The global "feel" is reminiscent of James Bond. A fast paced, easy read. But its verisimilitude has double edge: it may leave you cringing at just how dangerous the world is, and how many thanks we owe the unsung heroes who work to protect us from evil and hatred.
Valerie Plame was a secret covert agent in the CIA with a specialty in nuclear proliferation, until she was 'outed' in retaliation for an article her husband wrote about the Bush White House. Of course, this put all of her contacts and her undercover agents in jeopardy,and ended her job. She wrote a book about her experience that turned into an excellent film. Now, Ms. Plame, shares her expertise into the world of the secret agents in the CIA. This is the second in the series featuring Vanessa Pierson.
Vanessa has recovered from her last experience with Bhoot, the world's nuclear arms dealer, a dangerous man, who would do anything to gain what he wants. She is at the Louvre when an explosion occurs killing and injuring many people. Vanessa immediately thinks Bhoot is responsible, but within a few hours another group claims responsibility. Vanessa becomes a member of an International covert group looking for Bhoot, for the plans for a small nuclear device, and to find the US mole who is disclosing secrets to the enemy. This group travels all over the world hunting suspects and tracking down clues. Their digital capability is fascinating and up to the minute.
French covert agents take center stage along with Vanessa's former lover. We go to the dark and dangerous places with Vanessa and her group, we see first hand how these small, select groups work, and how decisions are made. Lives are placed in danger, new methods of detection and listening devices are implemented, we are privy to the inner workings of the Secret agencies in several countries.
The story line is excellent and kept my interest. I found the first third of the book redundant at times, but the speed picked up. The last three chapters were a little more far fetched, and difficult to swallow. The physical characteristics of the mole made me laugh, I could picture that person from real life. However, I think the Vanessa Pierson series has great potential.
This is a spy story with the advantage of being written by a former CIA agent, so it rings with authenticity in terms of the way operations are carried out. It is the sequel to Blowback, with further development of the characters who were introduced in that first book, as well as a continuation of the plot surrounding pursuit of the network of suppliers of weapons of mass destruction.
I have to say it is good, but not as good as the first novel in this series. She becomes almost the pet of the villain in the last book, and the new villain is a bit over done as to his position and motive. It feels like the author's psychological projections of her real live tormentors onto fictional characters. But they are not doing the same typical Washington-Cheney shenanigans as in real life. So it is not as believable.
Although I pre-ordered this book because I must have enjoyed her first, I won't do that again. The subject matter is interesting, however Ms. Plame does not have fiction writing skills and her partner doesn't elevate this effort. I felt like I was slogging through the book just to finish it.