Saturday, June 4, 2011

Original Sin

Beth McMullen
Beth McMullen's website with a link to the first chapter of the book

A tongue in cheek spy thriller combined with day to day stay at home mom adventures, this novel is extremely enjoyable and unusual, quite different than most of the crime novels on this blog.

The main character Lucy is a stay-at-home mom to adorable but demanding toddler Theo and married to a devoted but clueless environmentalist. In a former life, she was super spy Sally Sin. She had worked for the improbably named USWMD (US Weapons of Mass Destruction) agency, where her bosses were ungrateful and irascible. The fun parts include her daily get togethers with a group of moms and grandpas who are not altogether what they seem. The contemporary story of her life as a mom is told interspersed with flashbacks from her old spy days in all kinds of exotic locales.

During her spy days she had repeated run ins with turncoat James Bond like super spy, Ian Blackford, whose name seems like an homage to the William F. Buckley spy Blackford Oaks. Lucy must fend off the murderous attacks of the Blind Monk and Blackford in time to pick up Theo from preschool and make dinner for hubby. She is happy with her simple present life but has never told her husband about her former life and that tension - will he find out? - makes for some believable suspense.

Although the spy plot and setup seems extremely improbable, McMullen delights with Lucy/Sally's dry monologues, the well-written and funny depictions of the life of a devoted mom, the fun characters - I especially liked the child Theo-, and fairly witty dialogue.

This story is written as the first of a series. I highly recommend this first one as a delightful beach or bedtime read. My only complaint is the names of the agency and characters are little too silly and I wish she'd chosen a name other than Sally Sin for her character's nomme de guerre, but a minor quibble about a well-written and fun debut.

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