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Red, White, Blue
Cover of Red, White, Blue
Red, White, Blue
A novel
A dark, powerful, and subtly crafted novel that traces the intertwined fates of a CIA case officer and a young woman who is forced to confront her dead father's secret past—at once a gripping, immersive tale of duplicity and espionage, and a moving story of love and loyalty.
Anna is the beloved only child of the charismatic Noel, a New York City banker—and a mother who abandoned her. When Noel dies in a mysterious skiing accident in Switzerland the day before his daughter's wedding, Anna, consumed by grief, grows increasingly distant from her prominent music-producing husband, who begins running for office. One day, while on her honeymoon in the south of France, Anna meets an enigmatic stranger who will cause perhaps even greater upheaval in her life. It will soon become clear that this meeting was no chance encounter: this man once worked with Anna's father and has information about parts of Noel's life that Anna never knew. When she arrives back in New York, she receives a parcel that contains a series of cryptic recordings and videos showing Noel at the center of a brutal interrogation. Soon, everything Anna knows about her father's life—and his death—is called into question, launching her into a desperate search for the truth.
Smart, fast-moving, and suspenseful, Red, White, Blue plunges us into the inner workings of the CIA, a China Ops gone wrong, and the consequences of a collision between one's deepest personal ties and the most exacting and fateful professional commitment.
A dark, powerful, and subtly crafted novel that traces the intertwined fates of a CIA case officer and a young woman who is forced to confront her dead father's secret past—at once a gripping, immersive tale of duplicity and espionage, and a moving story of love and loyalty.
Anna is the beloved only child of the charismatic Noel, a New York City banker—and a mother who abandoned her. When Noel dies in a mysterious skiing accident in Switzerland the day before his daughter's wedding, Anna, consumed by grief, grows increasingly distant from her prominent music-producing husband, who begins running for office. One day, while on her honeymoon in the south of France, Anna meets an enigmatic stranger who will cause perhaps even greater upheaval in her life. It will soon become clear that this meeting was no chance encounter: this man once worked with Anna's father and has information about parts of Noel's life that Anna never knew. When she arrives back in New York, she receives a parcel that contains a series of cryptic recordings and videos showing Noel at the center of a brutal interrogation. Soon, everything Anna knows about her father's life—and his death—is called into question, launching her into a desperate search for the truth.
Smart, fast-moving, and suspenseful, Red, White, Blue plunges us into the inner workings of the CIA, a China Ops gone wrong, and the consequences of a collision between one's deepest personal ties and the most exacting and fateful professional commitment.
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  • From the cover

    RED

    Espionage is not a math problem.


    When we met, your father told me about the night you were born, how he spent it in a hospital but not with you and your mother, in a hospital in a city far away from the one where you arrived, on time. He said, with that sly charm, "Though where I was wasn't quite a hospital, in truth. It wasn't quite a city, either." He described looking out the window and seeing fires in the streets. He described thinking about your name while watching his friend die, the blood on his hands. His friend, his colleague.

    He told me they'd chosen "Anna" finally, not because of the literary echoes but because your mother had liked its lyricism, the precision of those twin A's on either end. Precision, or was it simplicity? He said, "And also because the letter A is a beginning, and I wanted to remember that night as being about the start of something rather than about an end." I didn't say that the letter A always made me think of endings, as in answers, as in questions and answers. The answers are what matter.

    I met your father within the first hour of my first day at the Agency. He told me that story, then took me to see the stars on the wall, each star linked to a loss of life. He pointed to one and said, "That was my friend the night she was born, in that hospital in that city with those fires." He told me he planned to take you to see the star when you were old enough.

    I didn't understand at the time what he was talking about. I went into this for the thrill, the mission, the risk. Some boys want to be quarterback. I wanted something different. Your father was trying to tell me that the essence of the experience would be emotional. "Espionage isn't a math problem," he said. Espionage is intimacy, a trip to the truth. I was a skilled interrogator, but the hardest interrogation is the one we perform on ourselves, of course. Your father always said, "Ask the hard questions." And, "Write down the answers, else you'll forget."

    These are my answers. This is what happened, and why, what I know and believe. This story doesn't involve fires, though it does involve a goddess or two. It does involve a dying friend. It involves a young officer who followed orders and committed crimes and fell in love and saved a life.

    I believe in forgiveness.

    I believe except the Lord keep the city, the watchman will wake, but in vain.

    I believe in you.

    This is the story of your father, Anna. You are old enough now.



    WHITE

    An avalanche can be triggered by weather or surface conditions. It can be triggered by a single skier's slip. Even an expert can be caught in an avalanche. And the most common cause of death in this case is asphyxiation. It's a kind of drowning, actually, drowning in snow. When her father died in an avalanche, Anna became obsessed with mountain weather, with snow. She learned that in the winter of 1951, also called the Winter of Terror, there were 649 avalanches in the Alps alone, that more than ninety lost their lives in the canton of Valais, in Switzerland, which is exactly where her father had a home and where he hiked to find fresh tracks the day he died, sixty some winters later. After she buried him near the Matterhorn, Anna had her own Winter of Terror. She was newly married and living, as one friend put it, "in the mourning shell, an Athenian isolation tank of loss." Shell, tank—that sounded about right. And yet just as she was most focused on herself and on her own pain, someone presented her with a problem even more complex than loss. The effect of this was what one might call...

About the Author-
  • LEA CARPENTER graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton and has an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was valedictorian. She is a Contributing Editor at Esquire and has written the screenplay for Mile 22, a film about CIA's Special Activities Division, directed by Peter Berg, coming out in July. She is developing Eleven Days for television with Lucy Donnelly (Grey Gardens) and Gideon Raff (Homeland). She lives in New York.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 18, 2018
    Carpenter follows her debut, 2013’s Eleven Days, with a beautifully written spy novel told in short segments, many of them narrated by a nameless CIA officer. Successful banker and stockbroker Noel spied for the CIA for 30 years. During this time, his wife, Lulu, abandoned the family, and Noel was left to raise their precocious child, Anna, alone. When Noel dies, Anna tries to piece together her father’s life in the face of accusations that he was really a spy for the Chinese. The nameless CIA agent, who was Noel’s protégé and is now missing, is wanted by the CIA for unofficially exfiltrating a Chinese double agent, who was recruited by Noel. Where most thrillers showcase familiar tips on spy craft and weaponry, Carpenter depicts the more esoteric and often byzantine facets of intelligence work. She skips the easy morality of guns, patriotic loyalty, and heroic action to slowly disclose the complexities of the secret world and how it relates to the human heart. Readers should not expect to come away satisfied with pat solutions, but rather to be seduced and enthralled with the far more challenging questions that arise and are sometimes, as in life, left unanswered. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME.

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Red, White, Blue
Red, White, Blue
A novel
Lea Carpenter
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