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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Isaacs, Susan: Past Perfect

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Katie Schottland dabbles in espionage and show business. She writes the frothy TV show Spy Guys, which was adapted from her book of the same name. The show is cloak-and-dagger-light, but Katie brings some real-world experience to the series. For reasons she never understood, she was unceremoniously fired from her low-level job at the CIA 15 years earlier, escorted from the premises by a security detail. The injustice of it still pricks at her. When an acquaintance from the old days calls out of the blue asking for help on a matter of "national importance" and offering information about why she was fired, Katie's curiosity is piqued. But the revelation never comes. Her source disappears. And Katie does some real-life spy work to try to figure out what's going on, and what happened 15 years earlier.

Like the series her character writes, Susan Isaac's Past Perfect is espionage light. Katie Schottland is a likable character, and the book's premise appeals very much. It would in fact make for a good television series, of the Remington Steele variety, though there is no indication that the author intends to take her characters further. My only complaint is that the book, very readable much of the time, slows to a crawl too often, as when, for example, her characters are discussing the various intrigues that led to Katie's firing--a story that goes back to the German Stasi and the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

In short: I like Isaac's main character, love the novel's premise, but the pace of the book is just too slow.

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