A Spy in Quarantine

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Is it really possible to be off the information grid? In A Spy in Quarantine, author Thomas Eglise sets up a fictional response to that question. Takis is a Ghostwriter par excellence, writing college-level papers on any imaginable subject. From Shakespeare to philosophy to medicine; he has research on what Professors expect, quotes from reliable sources, sometimes quoting himself, and lots of experience helping students more flush with cash than brains to earn diplomas. He also does wine reviews and travel logs on the side. All is well in his cozy world until two of the people who hired him end up murdered. Thus begins a cat and mouse game with Takis forced to rely on his anonymity and the selfish nature of his friends not to expose him to an ever closer CIA group who want to know what Takis knows and why that was worth the death of two people. The author does a great job of balancing Takis’ increasing paranoia with the fact that sooner or later one of the people he ghostwrites for is going to crack and expose him. The counter is the CIA team, with a mole, trying to find or silence him.

The writing is terse for the most part. The author often uses sentence fragments to underscore the brevity or chaotic nature of a scene. Usually, it works well, the few times it does not leads to a little confusion. There is a lot that is left unsaid in the dialog forcing the reader to work out what is happening or what is actually meant. Again usually it works well, otherwise, it does not definitively move the story along, leaving the reader to guess what was meant. The author also expects knowledge of college culture as part of the plot. The plot is actually a plot with enough twists and unexpected action to keep it interesting. Character development is done well, especially Takis, whose increasing fear peals his personality back like the layers of an onion. He finds the success of his articles both protects and defines him, making him vulnerable. Rachel, the love interest, is enigmatic and rather stays so. She plays a foil for the Takis’ general likability. The other characters are drawn with quick strokes and play only marginal roles in the plot. Once you get used to the style, the story moves along rapidly. The inevitability of Takis as the fly in a spider’s web, and his response is the best of the story. It is an enjoyable book. At the core of it, Takis has to deal with a loss of his sense that the world is his playground with no bad consequences to his actions. I would call it a coming of age and loss of innocence book about a person who has never felt mortal, or even threatened, in his comfortable, hidden life.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 402 pages
Publisher Eglise Press
Publish Date 10-Jan-2021
ISBN 9780578818849
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue May 2021
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller