Review

Past Perfect

by Susan Isaacs

Katie Schottland, who has an exceptional imagination, writes
for "Spy Guys," an espionage television show. All she wants is to
live happily ever after. Written with great detail, anticipation
and exaggeration, PAST PERFECT features great humor. "How odd, I
decided as I did an anti-garlic tongue brush with my Sonicare and
almost choked as it slipped and hit my uvula, that someone like me,
the anxiety queen, a woman given to imagining her own death from a
freak accident on even the jolliest occasion (like catching fire
while leaning over to blow out the candles on a birthday cake),
would marry a man who appeared to be without a nervous
system."

When a former CIA colleague phones Katie about something
mysterious, and then disappears, Katie becomes increasingly
concerned. After checking with her mother, a noted analyst and
several CIA contacts, Katie plans several face-to-face meetings to
find Lisa Golding and determine what was so important.
Additionally, Lisa mentioned that she had information about Katie's
sudden termination from employment at the CIA 15 years prior.

Visiting a former CIA contact in Cincinnati, Katie is impressed
with the stately home of the East German émigré. "Because
there was a huge Persian rug on the floor and a lot of Louis the
Something chairs and a couch, a giant mirror in a gilt frame, and
an oil painting of either a fat old lady in a white gown or a
medieval pope, I assumed it was the living room."

Eventually, Katie realizes a connection among the three East
Germans who were set up with secret identities in the United States
near the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. She takes a couple of
days off work to visit a man who may have information on Lisa's
whereabouts, Katie's dismissal and their possible connection.

As Katie reaches out in several directions to locate Lisa, she hits
some dead ends. Even though she finds a thread of truth leading
from associate to associate, she cannot learn the entire truth and
is deceived at every turn.

There was one flaw in Lisa that causes consternation in Katie and
those assisting her: Lisa had been known as the consummate liar.
"She claimed she was an Army brat. Another time she said she was
the daughter of a troubleshooter for an American company in Europe,
had gone to a Swiss boarding school." Was Lisa involved with
another CIA operative? Was there a connection between them and the
East German refugees?

When Katie is informed of the reasons her employment was possibly
terminated at the CIA, she ruminates as she sits in her vehicle. "I
started worrying that the car would overheat if I sat there with
the air conditioning on, but if I turned off the engine and opened
the windows, I could get asphyxiated, plus get disgusting
semicircles of sweat on my sleeveless chartreuse tank dress, which
was surprisingly flattering, especially with big hoop earrings,
although who would care when they pulled my dead body out of the
car?"

Entertaining, well written, very humorous and adventurous, PAST
PERFECT has all the elements of a spy novel with all the trimmings.
It is a "great fun" read!

Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on January 14, 2011

Past Perfect
by Susan Isaacs

  • Publication Date: June 10, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1416572082
  • ISBN-13: 9781416572084