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Book Review: Safe Houses

IN THIS spy thriller, author Dan Fesperman tells the story based on two different eras – the present day and that of the Cold War in Berlin in the 70s.

It all started in August 2014, 35 years after Berlin-based CIA worker Helen Abell went rogue to uncover a serial rapist, where she and her husband are shot in their Maryland farmhouse by their son, Willard.

Initially, it is assumed that Willard, 24, who is mentally ill, committed the crime. But older sister, Anna, who feels he is incapable of such an act, decides to hire Henry Mattick, an investigator, to help uncover the truth. In the process, she is shocked to discover that her secretive mum was once a spy in Europe and may have been targeted in connection with her activities there.

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The book continues with alternating sections following Anna in the present and Helen in the past. In Berlin, the innocent but strong-willed Helen, who was 23 then, has the job of tending to four safe houses for the Company. During an impromptu middle-of-the-night visit to one of them, she witnesses a man assaulting a young woman and steps in to stop the attack.

Warned by her superiors to forget the encounter and stay away from the assailant, whose operative code-name is Robert, Helen persists to continue her investigation on the sly via a network of female colleagues who are also well-aware of the man’s transgressions. Just as Anna will put her trust in Mattick, who once worked for the Department of Justice in Baltimore, Helen puts her trust in her lover, Clark Baucom, a veteran operative with the FBI.

In the beginning, you may find reading the alternative narratives between Anna and Helen irritating and confusing, but eventually, when the story finally converges, you will appreciate the fact that one narrative deepens the story plot and intensity of the other.

A prolific writer, Fesperman delivers another captivating and entertaining thriller.

Originally Published Here Entertainment & Lifestyle

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