Past Perfectby Susan Isaacs
In Past Perfect, Susan Isaacs gives us one of her most glorious characters ever: bright, buoyant, and borderline luscious Katie Schottland. Katie seems to have the ideal life: a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son, and a dream job writer for the long-running TV series Spy Guys. But all is not as splendid as it/i>/i>
In Past Perfect, Susan Isaacs gives us one of her most glorious characters ever: bright, buoyant, and borderline luscious Katie Schottland. Katie seems to have the ideal life: a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son, and a dream job writer for the long-running TV series Spy Guys. But all is not as splendid as it should be because writing about the espionage business isn't nearly as satisfying as working in it.
Fifteen years earlier, Katie was in the CIA. She loved her job (to say nothing of her boss, the mysterious Benton Mattingly). Yet just as she was sensing she was in line for a promotion, she was fired escorted off the premises by two extremely hulking security types. Why? No one would tell her: when you're expelled from the Agency, warm friends immediately become icy ex-colleagues who won't risk their security clearances by talking to you.
Until that day, Katie was where she wanted to be. Coming from a family of Manhattan superachievers, she too had a job she not only adored but a job that made her, in the family tradition, a Someone. Fifteen years later, Katie is still stuck on her firing. Was she set up? Or did she make some terrible mistake that cost lives? She believes that if she could discover why they threw her out, she might be at peace.
On the day she's rushing to get her son off to summer camp, Katie gets a surprise call from former Agency colleague Lisa Golding. "A matter of national importance," says Lisa, who promises to reveal the truth about the firing if Katie will help her. Lisa was never very good at truth-telling, though she swears she's changed her ways. Katie agrees to speak with her, but before she can, Lisa vanishes.
Maturity and common sense should keep Katie in the bright, normal world of her present life, away from the dark intrigues of the past. But she needs to know. As she takes just a few steps to find out, one ex-spy who might have the answers dies under suspicious circumstances. Another former agent is murdered. Could it be there's a list? If so, is Katie now on it? And who will be the next to go?
The Washington Post
"There has to be a name for the literary form Susan Isaacs has invented: the funny scary book. The woman who made us laugh as well as shiver in fear over a murder investigation in Compromising Positions has done the same thing for the CIA and international espionage. Past Perfect made me laugh, but it also kept me jumping out of bed every time a floorboard creaked in my old house." Sara Paretsky, author of Fire Sale
"I love Susan Isaacs! Her books come straight from the heart, and her characters are smart, funny, and feisty enough to be your best girlfriend not only for three hundred pages, but for life. Past Perfect introduces Katie Schottland a terrific galpal who packs her kid off to summer camp and sleuths as a CIA analyst with equal style. Put simply, Past Perfect is perfect!" Lisa Scottoline, author of Dirty Blonde
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Read an Excerpt
Past PerfectA Novel
By Susan Isaacs
ScribnerCopyright © 2007 Susan Isaacs
All right reserved.
Oh God, I wish I had a weapon! Naturally, I don't. Of course, if life in any way resembled Spy Guys, the espionage TV show I write, I'd pull off the top of my pen and with one stab inflict a fatal wound, and save my life. Except no pen: just two pieces of chewed Dentyne Ice spearmint wrapped in a receipt for sunscreen and panty liners.
When I began making notes on what I naively thought of as Katie's Big Adventure, I hadn't a clue that my life would be on the line. How could I? This would be my story, and every ending I'd ever written had been upbeat. But in the past few weeks I've learned that "happily ever after" is simply proof of my lifelong preference for fantasy over reality.
Unfortunately, fantasy will not get me out of this mess. So what am I supposed to do now? First, calm down. Hard to do when I'm crouched behind a toolshed, up to my waist in insanely lush flora that's no doubt crawling with fauna.
It's so dark. No moon, no stars: the earth could be the only celestial object in a black universe. And it's hot. Even at this late hour, there is no relief from the heat. My shirt is sweat-drenched and so sucked against my skin it's a yellow-and-white-striped epidermis.
I cannot let myself dwell on the fact that my danger is doubled because I'm so out of my element. Me, Total Manhattan Sushi Woman, cowering behinda toolshed in fried pork rinds country with unspeakable creatures from the insect and worm worlds who think my sandaled feet are some new interstate.
Adam, my husband, would probably be able to identify the nocturnal bird in a nearby tree that refuses to shut up, the one whose hoarse squawks sound like "Shit! Shit! Shit!" Adam is a vet. A veterinary pathologist at the Bronx Zoo, to be precise. Were something that feels like a rat's tail to brush his toes in the dark, he wouldn't want to shriek in horror and vomit simultaneously, like I do. He'd just say, Hmm, a Norway rat. Adam is close to fearless.
I, of course, am not. If I concentrate on what's happening here in the blackness, the slide of something furry against my anklebone, the sponginess of the ground beneath the thin, soaked soles of my sandals, a sudden Bump! against my cheek, then something, whatever it is (bat? blood-swollen insect?) ricocheting off, I will literally go mad, and trust me, I know the difference between literally and figuratively. I'll howl like a lunatic until brought back to sanity by the terrible realization that I've given away my precise location to that nut job who is out there, maybe only a hundred feet away, stalking me.
Feh! Something just landed on the inner part of my thigh. As I brush it off, its gross little feet try to grip me.
Don't scream! Calm down. Taoist breathing method: Listen to your breathing. Easy. Don't force it. Just concentrate. Listen. All right: three reasonably calm breaths. What am I going to do? How am I going to survive? Will I ever see Adam again? And our son, Nicky?
What used to be my real life back in New York seems as far away as some Blondie concert I went to when I was fifteen. All right, what the hell was I originally thinking I had to do here behind the toolshed? Oh, try to remember what I wrote in the journal I began a day or two after that first disturbing phone call. Maybe something I'd unthinkingly jotted down could help me now, or could at least allow me to delude myself that this episode will be yet another of my...and they lived happily ever after.
Copyright 2007 by Susan Isaacs
Excerpted from Past Perfect by Susan Isaacs Copyright © 2007 by Susan Isaacs. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Susan Isaacs is the author of thirteen novels, including As Husbands Go, Any Place I Hang My Hat, Long Time No See, and Compromising Positions. She is a former editor of Seventeen and a freelance political speechwriter. She lives on Long Island with her husband. All of her novels have been New York Times bestsellers.
- Sands Point, New York
- Date of Birth:
- December 7, 1943
- Place of Birth:
- Brooklyn, New York
- Honorary Doctorate, Queens College
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have so enjoyed Susan Issacs in the past - not so the last few novels. This book looked promising but was plodding and slow and, by the end, you didn't even care any more. She can do better.
Story was drawn out and boring - I skipped to the end to see why she was fired,closed the book and brought it back to the library. Would not recommend book to anyone.
I enjoyed Susan Isaacs past books but the past 2 have been a waste of my time. I couldn't even finish Any Place I Hang My Hat and this one I barely finished. The plot was just too political and drawn out. It just kept going on and on with her meeting with these people and trying to find out about why she was fired from the CIA. At least her husband was supportive in this effort but otherwise it was not worth reading.
CD/abridged/Mystery?: Big disappointment. I got this for two bucks at the library sale because I had listened to another Issac's book. This book is not a thriller, as there is no real suspense and not a mystery, or maybe I stopped caring. It's the story of a former CIA agent, Katie, living her life as happy as possible. She was fired from the CIA without cause from her low level position. Without good references for a regular 9 to 5 job, she is now writing books and screenplays for her creation, TV show "Spy Guys". A former annoying co-worker, Lisa, calls needing a journalistic contact. She claims to have startling information that can't be told over the phone. Katie, not really having any contact like that, tries to blow Lisa off until.........Lisa says she know why Katie as fired. Dun-da-da-daa. The rest of the book is Katie trying figure out if Lisa is really missing and why. The Randye Kaye does a great job in the reading, but the story is lame and empty. There are too many unanswered questions at the end mixed in with complicated Eastern Bloc issues.
Past Perfect was a good book. The story and characters were different and I wish it was a series with these same characters.
I don't understand why there are so many negative reviews. I usually am not a fan of the mystery genre, but this book was engrossing, entertaining, and hilarious. I would highly recommend it
I enjoyed this book! While it wasn't as great (for me) as my favorite (Shining Through), I really had a good time reading it. I thought the book was more in line with the books she's written that I really like: Lily White, Red White & Blue (I think!). The main character was believable, the story interesting, and of course, the Isaacs sense of humor (and some nice political commentary) spread throughout. If you like Susan Isaacs (heck, if you like a good, fun read), I recomend this book!
This was my first and probably last book by Susan Isaacs. I bought it based on the book jacket's description of the storyline and because of the raves by other 'authors'. Big Mistake! HUGE mistake! I literally trudged through this book. I skipped parts, tried to reread, put it down, and then start over. Finally, I just skipped to what seemed to be getting close to some sort of climax, read it, and put the book down. What bothered me? First, her completely over-the-top-need for over-the-top sentence structure and language. I found it confusing, unnecessary, and down right sill confusing. I'm an English major and teach reading, yet I struggled over and over with this book's prose and style. The plot itself? I thought it might have possibly had some direction. That was until I kept reading and rereading almost entire pages of useless commentary and reflection by the main character. Bottom line, the protagonist got fired from the CIA 15 years ago. She never got over the fact that nothing was explained to her or a satisfactory answer given. So, after receiving a strange phone call from her past, she embarks on this "dangerous" mission to find out what "really happened." At no time in the book was I in suspense. At no time in this book did I feel chills run down my spine. I simply was angry at myself for buying the book in hard cover. Waste of money. Totally. The ending was corny and the "suspense" not suspenseful. Sorry, but this book is not worth your time.
In the past, with a few exceptions, i.e., among others, 'Any Place I Hang My Hat', I have enjoyed Susan Isaac's work for what it is - light entertaining reading. But she has struck out with her last two. This book is boring and repetitive. The protagonist's imaginging all sorts of dire things happening to her, i.e., an overworked imagination, got to be annoying after about 30 pages and the plot was lame, lame, lame. Not one likeable character in the whole novel - and, to boot, they were cardboard cut-outs rather than real people. Skip this.
At first it seemed like this was going to be a promising read...sadly it went from ok to just plain boring. The writter took so long to get to the point you could really care less! I kept on reading hoping it would turn around, but it never really did.