Review

Blowback: A Vanessa Pierson Novel

by Valerie Plame and Sarah Lovett

Vanessa Pierson, a CIA undercover expert in nuclear weaponry, is engaged in an agency manhunt for a black market weapons dealer named Bhoot. Just as she is about to acquire the GPS coordinates to locate a suspected nuclear weapons facility in Southern Iran, her trusted asset is assassinated as they meet in a Vienna entertainment park. Her superiors at the CIA become concerned that it’s Pierson who is the target after a second asset is murdered. They worry that her cover has been blown and try to remove her from the case. 

Against agency direction, Pierson is confident that her asset’s widow has the vital information her husband was about to relay and smuggles her and her young daughter to a safe house in America. She continues a deadly game of cat and mouse with the assassin, traveling from Vienna to London and the island of Cyprus. Her reputation as a maverick jeopardizes her career and her life as she pursues her quarry.

"BLOWBACK comes from a writer who has been there and gives us a slam-bang, authentic thriller full of action and engaging characters."

This fast-paced debut novel, co-authored with Sarah Lovett (Dr. Sylvia Strange series), is as authentic to CIA practices as you can get. If the name Valerie Plame rings a distant bell, think back to 2006 when her name suddenly made headlines when her cover as a CIA clandestine operative was deliberately blown by the George W. Bush administration. She had been correct in her report that no uranium yellow cake was found in Iraq, the basis for starting that war, but being right didn’t save her career as an undercover agent once she was burned. She now holds the bona fides to develop a corker of a spy thriller series. 

Undercover spies are a lasting popular theme of books, movies and television series, and almost always depict a glamorous and alluring female spy who uses sex as a ploy for gaining intelligence. Plame states that this characterization of undercover spooking is often inaccurate, so she decided to create a character who represents the stark reality of the politics, complexities and intrigue that drives people to make this sacrifice for their country. 

BLOWBACK comes from a writer who has been there and gives us a slam-bang, authentic thriller full of action and engaging characters. Plame’s protagonist chases the bad guys halfway around the world, battling jetlag, gunshot wounds, bad food and airports on the run, and office politics when she returns to Langley. The book roars to an explosive climax and leaves us panting for the expected follow-up.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on October 17, 2013

Blowback: A Vanessa Pierson Novel
by Valerie Plame and Sarah Lovett

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press
  • ISBN-10: 0399158200
  • ISBN-13: 9780399158209