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Overview

A fast-paced international thriller in the vein of Janet Evanovich by former NPR anchor and correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, about a Pakistani terrorist’s nuclear threat to blow up the White House.

When Boston reporter Alexandra James is assigned to cover the death of Thom Carlyle, the son of a powerful Washington insider, she soon discovers the story is not as simple as it seems. The young man fell from the top of a Harvard bell tower, but did...

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Anonymous Sources

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Overview

A fast-paced international thriller in the vein of Janet Evanovich by former NPR anchor and correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, about a Pakistani terrorist’s nuclear threat to blow up the White House.

When Boston reporter Alexandra James is assigned to cover the death of Thom Carlyle, the son of a powerful Washington insider, she soon discovers the story is not as simple as it seems. The young man fell from the top of a Harvard bell tower, but did he jump…or was he pushed?

Intent on escaping the demons of her past, Alex knows how to outwork, outdrink, and outshop anyone else around. Now she is focused on what could be “the story of a lifetime”—chasing leads from Harvard Yard to the courtyards of Cambridge, England, from a clandestine rendezvous in London to the inside of a nuclear terrorist network. But when she goes to Washington, DC, for a key interview that promises to tie everything together, Alex the hunter becomes Alex the hunted. An assassin is dispatched…her laptop disappears…her phone is tapped…and she begins to grasp that Thom Carlyle may have been killed to hide a terrifying conspiracy within the White House itself.

Former NPR Intelligence correspondent Mary Louise Kelly has turned her own real-life reporting adventures into fiction with this stylish spy thriller.

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Editorial Reviews

David Ignatius
"In Mary Louise Kelly’s entertaining new novel, a smart, sexy reporter wanders into the midst of a truly scary terrorist plot. In the manner of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Kelly’s heroine has to outfox the conspirators to escape. This book is great fun, from beginning to end."
Joel Brenner
"A great spy thriller..I couldn;t put it down. The plot's great and the details are delicious."
Richard A. Clarke
"Anauthentic view of the media, intelligence, and terrorism that is a realpage turner. Kelly gets how the national security world really works."
Allison Leotta
"Oneof the most genuinely chilling plots I’ve ever read. A scenario thatwill haunt anyone who’s ever read a newspaper. I couldn’t put this bookdown."
Robert Grenier
“Kelly has mastered the mental geographies of the journalist, the terrorist, and the spy: The competing ideals, the gritty reality, and the layers of wisdom or self-deception they employ in reconciling them. You won’t put this down.”
Michael Hayden
“Mary Louise Kelly blends the worlds she knows so well—Harvard, Cambridge, Washington, the news room and the American intelligence community—into a fast-paced thriller that is hard to put down. The atmosphere rings true on every page as she weaves a taut tale from a young man's apparent suicide to a terrorist attempt at the highest seat of American power.”
Publishers Weekly
NPR and BBC reporter Kelly's debut thriller about a terrorist sleeper cell with its sights on American annihilation rings eerily prescient in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The story begins with the mysterious death of Harvard graduate Thom Carlyle, who appears to have been shoved out of a window from the bell tower of the university's Eliot House. The incident sparks the attention of Alexandra James, a feisty reporter for The New England Chronicle, and takes her to the hallowed halls of England's Cambridge University, the highest levels of the Central Intelligence Agency and the underbelly of the White House. She chases zany, seemingly disparate leads that include "meeting men masquerading as English cricket players for tea, and swapping banana-bread recipes with loopy landladies, and stalking fruit exporters in Pakistan." But James eventually uncovers a plot that could lead to dire national security consequences — all the while battling her own inner demons. Kelly's years as a political writer and intelligence correspondent covering wars, terrorism and nuclear powers have served her well, and she portrays James with authority in a smart, fun voice that will stir lust and envy among readers. The author leaves open a window on the final page that suggests a sequel much to the reader's delight. (June)
former Director of the CIA MichaelHayden
"Mary Louise Kelly blends the worlds she knows so well—Harvard, Cambridge, Washington, the news room and the American intelligence community—into a fast paced thriller that is hard to put down. The atmosphere rings true on every page as she weaves a taut tale from a young man's apparent suicide to a terrorist attempt at the highest seat of American power."
Bob Grenier
“Kelly has mastered the mental geographies of the journalist, the terrorist, and the spy: The competing ideals, the gritty reality, and the layers of wisdom or self-deception they employ in reconciling them. You won’t put this down.”
former Director of the CIA Michael Hayden
"Mary Louise Kelly blends the worlds she knows so well—Harvard, Cambridge, Washington, the news room and the American intelligence community—into a fast paced thriller that is hard to put down. The atmosphere rings true on every page as she weaves a taut tale from a young man's apparent suicide to a terrorist attempt at the highest seat of American power."
From the Publisher
“Kelly has mastered the mental geographies of the journalist, the terrorist, and the spy: The competing ideals, the gritty reality, and the layers of wisdom or self-deception they employ in reconciling them. You won’t put this down.”

"Mary Louise Kelly blends the worlds she knows so well—Harvard, Cambridge, Washington, the news room and the American intelligence community—into a fast paced thriller that is hard to put down. The atmosphere rings true on every page as she weaves a taut tale from a young man's apparent suicide to a terrorist attempt at the highest seat of American power."

"In Mary Louise Kelly’s entertaining new novel, a smart, sexy reporter wanders into the midst of a truly scary terrorist plot. In the manner of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Kelly’s heroine has to outfox the conspirators to escape. This book is great fun, from beginning to end."

"A great spy thriller..I couldn;t put it down. The plot's great and the details are delicious."

"An authentic view of the media, intelligence, and terrorism that is a real page turner. Kelly gets how the national security world really works."

"One of the most genuinely chilling plots I’ve ever read. A scenario that will haunt anyone who’s ever read a newspaper. I couldn’t put this book down."

Library Journal
Former NPR correspondent Kelly makes her fiction debut with a suspenseful spy thriller that careens from Cambridge, MA, to Cambridge, England, and on to Washington, DC. Alexandra James, a young newspaper reporter, covers the higher education beat in Boston, so when former student Thomas Carlyle takes a fatal fall out of a dorm window at Harvard, Alex is there for the story. It soon becomes clear that Thom's death was not an accident, and Alex jets off to Cambridge University to interview Thom's recent classmates. There, Alex finds handsome postgrad Lord Lucien Sly and a suspicious Pakistani nuclear scientist who has been mysteriously receiving very large crates of bananas. Her questioning catches the interest of someone at the CIA, and Alex is warned off the case. Still not sure whether she's on a wild goose chase, she heads to Washington to interview Thom's father. As all the pieces come together and her life is threatened, Alex tries to convince the White House that there's an imminent terrorist threat, filing stories all the while. VERDICT Mystery and thriller readers will happily delve into this fast-paced story featuring a feisty protagonist whom one hopes will have further adventures.—Melissa DeWild, Kent District Lib., Comstock Park, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Kelly, a former NPR reporter, presents Boston-based newspaper reporter Alexandra James, who stumbles upon a complicated terrorist plot while chasing a trans-Atlantic story. Thomas Carlyle, only son of the president's personal attorney and a smart young man of privilege, has returned to Boston from a year studying at Cambridge. When he arrives home, he grabs a couple of bottles of brew and heads over to Harvard University to use a key copied during his student days and ascend a bell tower. But instead of relaxing and watching the action below, he is pushed to his death. When the Chronicle's staff catches wind of the dead body on Harvard's campus, Alex is the closest reporter. She reluctantly trots over to the crime scene and manages to worm her way into a front row seat to the action. Following the last few days of Carlyle's life, Alex traces him back to Cambridge, where she interviews some of his friends and the aloof, self-important girl with whom Carlyle fell in love. Soon, she finds herself in bed with a handsome Englishman and on the trail of a Pakistani scientist with access to the materials critical to making a nuclear device. But when Alex returns to U.S. soil, her story becomes a cat-and-mouse game with very high stakes, and she finds herself deep in the weeds with some pretty scary characters, all of whom wish her anything but well. Kelly uses her own Harvard/Cambridge background to bring authenticity to her tale and writes clear, unadorned prose. In Alex she creates a stereotypical thriller heroine: beautiful, brilliant, plucky and haunted by the events of her past. A by-the-numbers spy thriller. The tale isn't terribly original but perfect for plane rides, vacations and to read while sitting in waiting rooms.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476715551
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 324,261
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Louise Kelly spent two decades traveling the world as a reporter for NPR and the BBC. Her assignments have taken her from grimy Belfast bars to the glittering ports of the Persian Gulf, and from mosques in Hamburg to the ruined deserts of Iraq. As an NPR correspondent covering the intelligence beat and the Pentagon, she reported on wars, terrorism, and rising nuclear powers. A Georgia native, her first job was working as a staff writer at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kelly was educated at Harvard and at Cambridge University in England. She lives in Washington, DC, and Florence, Italy, with her husband and their two children.

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Read an Excerpt

Anonymous Sources


  •     

        

TUESDAY, JUNE 22

Thomas Carlyle climbed the bell tower that night without quite planning to.

He’d arrived back in Cambridge two hours before, stiff and cranky after the long flight crammed in economy class. No one was home at the house on Brattle Street. Old pizza menus were gathering dust on the floor of the front hall, and nothing was in the fridge but a withered apple and several dozen cans of his mother’s Diet Coke. So he’d dumped his bags and headed out. Fifteen minutes’ walk to the local liquor store, and then—some old homing instinct kicking in here—another ten to Eliot House.

Eliot looked the same. Perhaps the most imposing of Harvard’s dorms, it towered above the Charles River. Red brick, wide double doors, an overflowing bike rack out front. Students lounged outside the doors, smoking and giggling. Summer school must have started.

Thom caught the open door from one of them, nodded at the familiar-looking security guard, and turned right into the dining hall. It smelled of seafood—fish tacos, maybe—and frying onions. Dinner was in full swing.

Thom had eaten hundreds of dinners here, and fish tacos were among his favorites. But tonight he clutched his brown paper bag and headed straight for the far doors, through an archway, and toward the stairs marked H-ENTRY.

He took the stairs two or three at a time, up five flights. Then he cut down a hallway toward the door marked LEONARD BERNSTEIN ’39, MUSIC ROOM AND TOWER.

He dug in his jeans pocket for the key. It turned. So the lock hadn’t changed either. Two more flights, darker and narrower now. The linoleum was worn thin and stained.

When he reached the seventh floor, a small metal plaque informed him that Bernstein used to practice here in 1936. Yes, and it didn’t look like they’d bothered to redecorate it since, Thom thought to himself. He smiled. He was in decent spirits, actually, considering the jet lag, and the girl. At the top, one last door. He jiggled the lock and it swung open.

The tower room was small. Dusty. Low ceilings. Surprising, really, given the grandeur of the Eliot tower and dome from the street. In the fading light Thom took in the grand piano hulking in the middle of the room. He’d always wondered how the hell they’d hauled it up here.

But the reason he’d come was for the windows. Two huge and perfectly circular windows, each maybe six feet across, one framing each end of the room. The right one was long since painted shut, if it had ever opened. But the left one bore two ancient-looking brass latches. Thom unhooked them and then remembered to kick at the bottom panes, where the paint always stuck a bit. And there it was. The whole window spun open on creaky hinges. He wedged his paper bag into the crack to keep the breeze from slamming it shut again, then hooked a leg over, lowered himself onto the sill, and peered down across the steep slate roof.

Senior year, he and his roommate, Joe, sometimes crawled right out across the roof, inching along until they could straddle the dormer windows. They would knock back a few beers and watch the girls crossing the courtyard, their laughter and teasing voices floating up from far below.

Now he looked down at the Charles River, curving toward Boston and glowing golden at this hour. On the far bank rose the dome of Harvard Business School. Thom’s destiny, the way things were going. He shook the thought from his head and cracked open one of the bottles he’d purchased, walking here through Harvard Square. A thick, syrupy oatmeal stout. Not exactly the thing for this summer weather. But studying in England this past year, he’d lost his taste for the watery American lager that had been the staple of his weekends here in Eliot House.

Thom took another sip and watched the boats gliding along the Charles. Lord knew how many hours he himself had logged on this river. By the time he made varsity crew, the boathouse had felt more central to his college experience than any library, and the blisters across his hands had hardened like tiny stones. A sculler flitted past, then an eight-man crew. Was that Boston University? But why would they be practicing so late, and on summer break at that?

He squinted and craned forward, trying to make out what colors were painted on the oars. It was at that moment that hands reached from the shadows behind him. The blow landed at the bottom of his skull. A crack of wood against bone. There was a moment of perfect silence, before Thom swung his strong arms, clawing behind him. But the foot was already on his back. One kick, but hard enough to launch him off the sill and onto the roof ten feet down.

He crashed into the pointed tip of a dormer window and rolled, grabbing for a gutter, a ledge, anything. There was nothing, and he fell, wide-eyed, into the gathering twilight below.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    This is a great summer read written by a reporter who appears to

    This is a great summer read written by a reporter who appears to have actually visited all the locations in the novel. As a reader who reads prodigiously many spy thrillers, this book rang true and at the same time frightened me with scenerios that I had never considered and certainly didn't know existed. Did anyone else know bananas were a threat to our national security? I loved the Hyde character and could really "see" him in this book. The novel flows along well and reaches a cresendo that makes the reader find the last chapters impossible to put down. A fantastic first novel by a writer to watch for.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    Best read of the year Ms Kelly¿s debut novel certainly leaves h

    Best read of the year

    Ms Kelly’s debut novel certainly leaves her audience calling for more.
    Taut, fast paced writing, with a quirky lead character that many women will identify with, breezes through a believable tale as a reluctant heroine.
    The plot gives us an insight into a world most of us have no idea about but importantly it rings true. I know nothing about the workings of the CIA or National Security but the story line felt completely believable without ever seeming far fetched.
    It takes us on a journey across the globe as Kelly seamlessly ends each chapter making you want to read on, hence the reason for devouring it in one sitting. A touch of humour thrown in for good measure and here is a book that is surely the start of a series.
    Expect Alyson Hannigan or Alicia Witt to play the lead in the movie that will surely follow.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    WOW!  This is the beach read of the summer.  This book has it al

    WOW!  This is the beach read of the summer.  This book has it all: thrills, plot twists, spies, sex, Italian shoes, assassins, and guess what: it is really well written.  It was recommended to me by a friend in my book club and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.  Stayed up to 2 a.m. on a week night to finish it.  Recommending to everyone I can find.  The details are all so realistic--you really feel you are in the CIA headquarters, or a Cambridge college--the characters are intriguing and sometimes outrageous without being caricatures, and the plot leaves you breathless (as the heroine races from location to location to foil a plot) without seeming cliched.  A definite must buy.  Can't wait for the sequel!  And the movie!  

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2013

    This book was so much fun to read. Her writing is so fresh and I

    This book was so much fun to read. Her writing is so fresh and I cannot wait for Mary Louise Kelly's next book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    Amazing

    Beautifulky written

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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