Review: Spy Mom by Beth McMullen

14 Jun

Cover for Spy Mom by Beth McMullenMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is actually two in one. The first book was released last year as Original Sin. I’ve reviewed it before, and I want to mention it was my top book of 2011, out of 169 books read. It even held up well for re-reading.

The second is To Sin Again, which hasn’t been released before. I loved it almost as much as the first book, and for pretty much the same reasons.

Summary via Goodreads:

Fall in Love with Sally Sin
One Unforgettable Heroine
2 X the Adventure

Meet Sally Sin. Wife. Mother. Retired Spy. Or so she thinks. After nine years with the USAWMD (United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction)–where she desperately tried to stay one step ahead of her dashing nemesis, Ian Blackford–Sally has become Lucy Hamilton, stay-at-home mom to Theo and wife to adoring husband, Will, who knows nothing of her covert past. But now, instead of chasing bad guys through perilous jungles, she builds giant Lego towers, reads Green Eggs and Ham, and crafts exceptional forts from couch cushions and blankets.

Just when she’s starting to settle into retirement, Sally’s old Agency boss, Simon Still, shows up to recruit her for one more job, involving the illegal arms dealer, Blackford, who is on the move again. Original Sin features Sally’s great chase to thwart Blackford, who, conveniently, no one besides her seems to be able to stop. But can she make it to preschool pickup, get dinner on the table, and foil Blackford’s nefarious plot?

And just when you think the thrills are over, you’ll be ready To Sin Again.

When the Agency Director is taken hostage, Sally is once again called into action. A rescue operation? Easy. That is, until Sally learns of a connection between the kidnapping and her own mysterious childhood, which complicates everything, even Theo’s kindergarten applications. Being a mom is hard enough, without having to save the world.

Both books have a great spy story, spread out between Lucy’s recollections of her days as Sally Sin and the unwelcome intrusion of characters from her past life intruding on her current one. She’s got to use the tools of the moment to solve the issue.

In both books, Lucy is a stay at home mom who loves what she’s doing, but is more than occasionally driven nuts by it. The specifics have changed as her son has aged (Now questions of where to go to school are at play), but the book captures the slightly schizophrenic pull of “I love what I’m doing. I’m going crazy. I don’t want to do anything else”.

Both books are laugh out loud funny in places.

And I’d really like these books if that’s all there was to them. What makes me love them is that there is also a deeper layer to them. Original Sin left me thinking about identity– what defines who we are. In To Sin Again, it’s family that is being examined.

Lucy has a very complicated family, and in this book, she’s forced to look at the family that raised her; a biological parent whose identity she recently learned; her new family, forged with a manufactured identity; and a set of in-laws that aren’t at all sure what to make of her. She struggles with issues around loyalty and identity.

So why did I say I liked “To Sin Again” almost as much as “Original Sin”? First, my expectations were higher– this one didn’t have a chance to take me by surprise. Second, there was a running thread about pregnancy that didn’t work quite right for me, for reasons that may not generalize to others.

Those are small things, and I strongly recommend this book.

Check out Beth McMullen’s web page for the first chapter of each book, an opportunity to win a copy of Spy Mom, and more!

Thank you to Hyperion Books for sending me a copy of this book for review.


Posted by on June 14, 2012 in books, reviews


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2 responses to “Review: Spy Mom by Beth McMullen

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