Our American Friend

S. & S. Feb. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781982158804. $27. F
What if the daughter of Russian diplomats was an undetected spy? What if, decades later, she became first lady of the United States? What if her POTUS husband aimed to forge warmer ties with Russia? At the core of Pitoniak’s (Necessary People; The Futures) third, timely novel is the relationship between secretive first lady Lara Caine and young journalist Sofie Morse, whom Lara has hired to cowrite her autobiography. A cat-and-mouse game begins when Lara confides details of life as a double agent to Sofie; pauses when Sofie is charged with treason and flees to Croatia; and ends when Lara executes her Machiavellian scheme to make POTUS dance to her tune. Readers will gasp at revelations that resound with the truth of recent headlines. Sofie is an ambitious journalist whose ethical and emotional loyalties are under severe pressure. Pitoniak, whose earlier novels deftly depicted the conflicted lives of young professionals, portrays Sofie’s challenges in bold yet sympathetic colors.
VERDICT Viewers who followed the TV series The Americans will recognize and enjoy its thrilling hallmarks in this exciting novel about the erstwhile first couple.
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