Publisher’s Weekly review of The Guys Who Spied for China

May 3, 2010 - 9:33 pm

ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer

The suburbs of Southern California house a cluster of unlikely international spies in this espionage novel set in the 1980s. Witty journalist/novelist (unnamed) meets a pocket of second-amendment-loving weapons enthusiasts when his dentist, Louis Dubin, invites him over for a small gathering at his home. There, he meets federal agent Noah Brown, who’s secretly keeping tabs on the group. Noah later reveals that the bunch of “Average Joe’s, dressed in Levi’s and L.L. Bean” is part of a network that feeds information to the Chinese government. As one of the group members says, “Power is information, and information leads to wealth.” As Noah draws the journalist further into his battle with the Chinese spy community, the journalist finds himself relishing the rush despite the danger involved. Even though the novel takes place more than 30 years ago, the story still feels fresh, as socially marginalized “techno-happy gun nuts” banding together in the name of political radicalism doesn’t seem that far-fetched in today’s culture. The dialogue between the journalist and Noah, which is necessary to explain complicated portions of the plot, gets tedious, but when the author shows rather than tells, it’s an engaging and suspenseful read. The story, however, never really gains traction, as each encounter Noah and the journalist have with the enemy (whomever the enemy happens to be in each scene) seems fragmented from the arc of the book. Fans of espionage, though, will likely relish the tale of good guys gone bad.cover China Book

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