Past Perfect: A Novel

Past Perfect: A Novel

2.5 12
by Susan Isaacs
     
 

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From bestselling author Susan Isaacs comes her "feisty, funny, and smart" (New York Times) novel about a successful TV writer who once worked for the CIA.

Katie seems to have the perfect life—a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son; and a glamorous job as writer for the long-running TV series, Spy Guys, based on her own…  See more details below

Overview

From bestselling author Susan Isaacs comes her "feisty, funny, and smart" (New York Times) novel about a successful TV writer who once worked for the CIA.

Katie seems to have the perfect life—a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son; and a glamorous job as writer for the long-running TV series, Spy Guys, based on her own surprisingly successful novel. But for Katie, writing about the spy business isn’t as satisfying as working in it. Fifteen years ago, she was working at CIA headquarters. She loved her job, and especially her boss. Then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, she was fired. Katie comes from a family of Manhattan achievers, so it’s been tough to accept such humiliation. She’d give almost anything to know what falsehoods lay in her personnel file. A surprise call from former colleague Lisa gives Katie hope. Lisa says she urgently needs Katie’s help on a matter of national importance and promises to reveal all if Katie will work with her. Then Lisa disappears. One person is dead, then another. Who will be next? With some help from a couple of colorful ex-spies, Katie embarks on a scary mission, leading her back to the extraordinary and eerie days as the Berlin Wall was about to crumble. Flawlessly crafted, witty and suspenseful, Past Perfect is classic Susan Isaacs in top form.

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Editorial Reviews

Ex-CIA agent Katie Schottland is now a successful spy novelist, but she still gets nostalgic about her glory days back at the Agency. When an old co-worker sends out an alarm, Katie jumps at the chance to reopen her (purloined) files. It doesn't take a super-snooper, however, to discover that several of her old Iron Curtain charges have become corpses. These unexplained homicides send our reactivated operative off on a mad chase to save her other associates. Susan Isaacs handles this diverting thriller with consummate adroitness.
Publishers Weekly
Isaacs's 11th novel has fewer sparks flying than nets dragging, but most fans won't mind a bit, given the amount of outside-the-bedroom adventure. Despite reinventing herself as the author of the novel Spy Guys and the creator of the resultant TV show, Katie Schottland remains wounded by her still-unexplained firing from the CIA, where she wrote intelligence briefs as the Cold War ended, 13 years earlier. When she gets a distress call from an old co-worker, Lisa Golding, who subsequently disappears, Katie plunges back into the notes she smuggled out of the office. She seeks help from an old flame and another ex-agent (now a log-cabin recluse) who helps her trace three of Lisa's former charges at the CIA, East German asylum seekers transported to America and given new names. When two of them turn up dead within weeks of each other, Katie decides to give chase to locate the third before the woman becomes the next casualty. And she still hopes she'll coerce her ex-employer to give up the truth about her termination. The operations stuff is well-done throughout. Katie's relationship with her sweet vet husband adds little, but TV show-based scenes are diverting, and her fixation on her last job is sharply funny and true-to-life. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
New York novelist Katie Schottland is the TV scriptwriter of an espionage show based on her book, Spy Guys. She is also happily married to Adam, a pathologist at the Bronx Zoo, and is the mother of precocious ten-year-old Nicky. A high achiever and more than gainfully employed, Katie has nonetheless never gotten over the shame of being fired from her first job with the CIA. Fifteen years earlier, following her graduation from college, she worked for two years as a writer/analyst for the agency's Eastern European division when she was suddenly and unceremoniously removed from the premises without explanation. Katie's feelings surface anew when she receives a blast-from-the-past phone call from former colleague Lisa Golding, who begs for Katie's help, promises in exchange to tell her why she was removed, and then promptly disappears. From that point forward, Katie's life takes on the intrigue of her TV characters as she searches for Lisa and the answer to her own personal mystery. Filled with well-rounded characters and good humor, this novel, like Isaacs's previous works (e.g., Any Place I Hang My Hat), could be a best seller. Recommended for large fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]-Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A faltering comic spy caper from Isaacs (Any Place I Hang My Hat, 2004, etc.). Soon-to-be-40 Katie Schottland has a pretty terrific life in her native New York: a great apartment in a pre-war building, a devoted husband in Adam, a vet at the Bronx Zoo, and ten-year-old Nicky, a pudgy kid with a heart of gold. To top it off, she has an enviable job as the sole writer for Spy Guys, a not too awful cable show based on her only novel. But when she gets a mysterious call from ex-colleague Lisa Golding, something about national security and the fate of the nation, all that contentment evaporates. Fifteen years ago, Katie and Lisa worked at the CIA, Katie turning out reports on the crumbling Soviet Bloc. She loved everything about her job until she was unceremoniously fired, escorted from the building by guards and blackballed from finding another job. Lisa's call offers the ultimate bait-the classified information explaining why Katie was ditched. But when Lisa disappears, Katie becomes involved in a CIA conspiracy more complicated than anything she could have come up with for the cable show: Three East German officials were brought to the U.S. courtesy of the CIA just before the collapse of their government. Set up in businesses and given new identities, they benefited from quite a lot of starter money. Why such special treatment? And why are they being murdered? Katie begins traveling the country in search of answers, having a bit more adventure than she bargained for. Isaacs' thriller is complicated enough to keep you guessing until the end, but the book's momentum is halted by the slightly neurotic narrator, who enjoys the occasional tangent right at the climax of suspense. A misstep forthe usually entertaining author.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476704241
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
08/14/2012
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
180,990
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Susan Isaacs is the author of fourteen 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

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Sands Point, New York
Date of Birth:
December 7, 1943
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Education:
Honorary Doctorate, Queens College
Website:
http://www.susanisaacs.com

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Past Perfect 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Past Perfect was a good book. The story and characters were different and I wish it was a series with these same characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
marshaK More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.