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Past Perfect by Susan Isaacs

Past Perfect (2007)

by Susan Isaacs

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I found this to be an enjoyable read. It was more about relationships than about the CIA and spies. That was why I liked it. Though from a female perspective (me being a guy), it was full of angst and the questions we all ask ourselves sooner or later and the acceptance of where we are and what is really important that we must eventually reach. ( )
  kewaynco | Apr 10, 2016 |
Definitely not one of Isaac's better novels. ( )
  justacatandabook | Mar 9, 2016 |
I happened to finish reading "Past Perfect," the 2007 novel by Susan Isaacs, soon after starting "Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies," a 2008 book by Donald Spoto. So naturally I couldn't help thinking about "Past Perfect" as a Hitchcock movie and Katie Schottland as a Hitchcock heroine.

Spy stories, especially those in which ordinary people (often ordinary women with extraordinary beauty) get caught in dangerous situations) were a Hitchcock staple, from "The 39 Steps" to "Torn Curtain." That's what happens in the Isaacs novel. Actually Katie had worked for the CIA, writing mostly routine reports, in her early 20s, but then 15 years ago she had been fired without explanation. Now she writes a successful television series called "Spy Guys," but the unfairness of her termination still rankles. So when she gets a call from Lisa, a former CIA colleague, asking for her help and, as bait, promising to reveal the truth about why she was canned, Katie is hooked. But then Lisa never calls back.

Katie wonders if something might have happened to Lisa, but mostly she just wants to get to the bottom of her disgrace of 15 years before. So, her son off to summer camp and her husband preoccupied with his work, she begins making contact with people she worked with at the agency, including her former boss with whom, like many other women in his department, she had had a brief fling. Though a novice at actual espionage, Katie keeps digging until she uncovers the whole complicated truth, nearly at the cost of her life.

A 40-year-old Jewish mother may not seem the ideal Hitchcock leading lady, but Katie is vibrant and sexually appealing enough to have drawn the director to this story. And given his apparent delight in placing his actresses in unpleasant circumstances, such as by keeping Madeleine Carroll handcuffed to Robert Donat for long hours each day during the shooting of "The 39 Steps," he might have relished the opportunity to place his Katie in some Florida brambles as she tries to elude a killer.

Susan Isaacs writes her thriller with humor and gradually building suspense. We will never discover what Hitchcock might have done with this story, but we can certainly enjoy what Isaacs does with it. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Dec 26, 2014 |
I used to really like Susan Isaacs but I find her latest books boring, dull, flat and I don't like characters. I didn't even finish this book. ( )
  gsusie4 | Feb 29, 2012 |
just finished: It was good. But not her best work. Slow in someplaces. Long in others. Not as good as most of her work but still good. Great for a cold weekend in the house or on the beach
  lonepalm | Dec 8, 2011 |
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To Mary Rooney.

In 1977, when I had doubts, she said,
"Of course you can write a novel."
This book is for her, with love and thanks.
First words
Oh God, I wish I had a weapon!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743242165, Hardcover)

In Past Perfect, Susan Isaacs gives us one of her most glorious characters ever: bright, buoyant, and borderline luscious Katie Schottland. Katie seems to have the ideal life: a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son, and a dream job - writer for the long-running TV series Spy Guys. But all is not as splendid as it should be because writing about the espionage business isn’t nearly as satisfying as working in it. Fifteen years earlier, Katie was in the CIA. She loved her job (to say nothing of her boss, the mysterious Benton Mattingly). Yet just as she was sensing she was in line for a promotion, she was fired - escorted off the premises by two extremely hulking security types. Why? No one would tell her: when you’re expelled from the Agency, warm friends immediately become icy ex-colleagues who won’t risk their security clearances by talking to you. Until that day, Katie was where she wanted to be. Coming from a family of Manhattan superachievers, she too had a job she not only adored but a job that made her, in the family tradition, a Someone. Fifteen years later, Katie is still stuck on her firing. Was she set up? Or did she make some terrible mistake that cost lives? She believes that if she could discover why they threw her out, she might be at peace. On the day she’s rushing to get her son off to summer camp, Katie gets a surprise call from former Agency colleague Lisa Golding. “A matter of national importance,” says Lisa, who promises to reveal the truth about the firing - if Katie will help her. Lisa was never very good at truth-telling, though she swears she’s changed her ways. Katie agrees to speak with her, but before she can, Lisa vanishes. Maturity and common sense should keep Katie in the bright, normal world of her present life, away from the dark intrigues of the past. But she needs to know. As she takes just a few steps to find out, one ex-spy who might have the answers dies under suspicious circumstances. Another former agent is murdered. Could it be there’s a list? If so, is Katie now on it? And who will be the next to go?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Former CIA analyst Katie Schottland receives a call from Lisa Golding, an old colleague who desperately needs her help. Katie, who was inexplicably fired from the agency some 15 years before, has since turned her experiences to profit, penning a successful cable-TV show based on her novel, Spy Games. But she remains clueless about the circumstances surrounding her termination. Lisa, it seems, knows all the devastating details and offers to offer them up in exchange for Katie's assistance. But can Katie, now ensconced in upper Manhattan, with a nice (if somewhat milquetoasty) husband and a 10-year-old son, leave behind her safe, comfortable life long enough to learn the truth?… (more)

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