Gidget joins the CIA in political writer Berlinski's rousing, hilarious, compulsively readable debut about a restless New Yorker who enlists in the secret service and learns about truth and justice the hard way. A Sanskritist previously stationed in India, spunky Selena Keller has returned to Manhattan only to face a lackluster teaching tenure. When a cryptic Internet ad seeking an "extraordinary individual" catches her eye, a whirlwind of screening exams and evaluations usher Selena in as the CIA's newest employee. Soon after relocating to Virginia, an orientation consisting of dull paperwork is replaced with hardcore, exhilarating physical instruction at a remote facility called "the Farm," where Selena learns hand-to-hand combat, emergency medicine and hilariously attempts to overcome a fear of flying. She befriends a tough, beautiful trainee named Iris and dates unsuccessfully-until Stan, a "pale, fat man with small eyes and very spiky thick red hair" manages to thrill her with his memory skills and eventually seduce her. Just as all is going well, Selena's trustworthiness and loyalty (and extracurricular activities) are called into question by a tough group of CIA adjudicators, an investigation is launched and it's clear that someone has framed her. Paranoia mounts and everyone close to Selena is considered a potential traitor, including the increasingly slimy Stan. Berlinski's far-fetched comedy of manners clips her protagonist's career wings a bit prematurely, but there's still a lot to cheer about thanks to the narrative voice of an extremely engaging and likable main character. Breezy, accomplished and bracing, this is superior entertainment. Agent, Kathy Robbins. 60,000 first printing; 4-city author tour; film rights sold to Tribeca and Universal. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Single young women trying to find themselves have endured some bizarre situations in recent fiction, but nothing quite compares with Selena Keller's experience when she joins the CIA. Selena, who has spent most of her adult life studying Sanskrit literature, has just received her doctorate when she joins the Agency. She applies to the CIA on a whim, as an alternative to the dull world of academia, but, unfortunately, her training at the Agency is not very exciting. What's worse, it's classified. At first, it doesn't look as if Selena has the makings of a spy: she's unobservant, mentions her training in unsecured e-mail, and isn't much of a sneak. But she's intelligent and determined, and it isn't long before she has mastered the art of manipulation. Alas, so has everyone around her, and in the end it isn't clear who has out-manipulated whom. This first novel is well written and would appeal to anyone interested in the workings of the CIA, but those looking for a good, romantic read will need to go elsewhere. For larger fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-Karen Core, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Selena Keller, a young scholar of Sanskrit literature, just isn't cut out for the life of an obscure academic. Impulsively, she answers an ad to work for the CIA, and the savvy New Yorker soon finds herself caught up in a culture as alien as any she had experienced in India or academia. Taught to recruit foreign nationals to serve as spies for the U.S., she learns covert operations at the agency's headquarters in McLean and paramilitary skills at its fabled "Farm" in rural Virginia. She makes friends and finds a lover, but her ambitious classmates tend to practice their new spycraft techniques on each other, and it is never clear how genuine these relationships are. Selena shows a talent for holding her own, and readers stay on the hook to see what happens next-and to find out what's really going on. Ultimately, a vestigial conscience-and a questioning intelligence that makes it impossible for her to embrace the Company spirit-proves to be Selena's undoing, and she finds liberation in a colorful ending. This fast-moving, economically told story has elements of humor, satire, and mystery. Though some readers will simply enjoy this book as spicy light fare, others will also savor its dark undertones.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
“Loose Lips told me everything I ever wanted to know about the CIA but couldn’t think [of] who to ask. Claire Berlinski’s Selena Keller is one part Inspector Clouseau and one part Nancy Drew, with a touch of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw thrown in. Berlinski makes central intelligence funny and endearing and (go figure) intelligent.”
—MEGHAN DAUM, author of My Misspent Youth and The Quality of Life Report
“Funny and smart . . . [It] will hold your attention till the end and make you wish for a sequel.”
“This looks like an insider’s account. Claire Berlinski does a marvelous job of portraying a young woman being plunged into a culture most Americans find difficult to understand. It’s an honest book. It should be read by anyone intending to work for the CIA.”
—ROBERT BAER, author of See No Evil
“Wickedly funny . . . What first looks like a light summer read turns out to be a chilling, absorbing story.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“THIS JUICY READ WILL HAVE YOU TURNING PAGES AT A FEVERISH PACE.”
—Cosmopolitan, “Hot Summer Reads”
COMPULSIVELY READABLE . . .
There’s . . . a lot to cheer about thanks to the narrative voice of an extremely engaging and likable main character. Breezy, accomplished and bracing, this is superior entertainment.”
“Sharp wit that would make the Sex and the City girls proud; a heroine who refreshingly does not fall for Joe Stud. Grade: A.”
—The Washington Post
“Berlinski writes about the CIA with wit and authority. . . . Combing through the various knots of betrayal will hold your attention till the end and make you wish for a sequel.”
“Claire Berlinski has written a book with an authentic feel about a love affair between officers in the Central Intelligence Agency. . . . The main character is attractive, and the writing is tight and witty.”
—Deseret News (Utah)
“With Alias and The Recruit stirring up interest, Berlinski’s insightful, clever debut will have wide appeal.”