July 31, 2011

Review: Original Sin

By Beth McMullen
Available now from Hyperion
Review copy

Book Cover

Lucy Hamilton lives in San Francisco with her husband Will and son Theo. She's a stay-at-home mother who just got a call from her old job. When she quit, she knew that she could be called back at anytime. That's because Lucy Hamilton is actually a spy known by the codename Sally Sin. Her old nemesis Ian Blackford has been making trouble, despite being dead, and her boss needs her help. (At least he's willing to help with finding a baby-sitter.)

ORIGINAL SIN is no gritty, realistic spy story. It's funny and moves along quickly so that you don't dwell on the more ridiculous happenings. I liked Lucy's voice - she's competent and tough, but a little frazzled and sleep-deprived due to the pressure of taking care of a three-year-old. Children in stories can be annoying, but Theo and Lucy's interactions were cute. I also liked her husband Will and felt bad that he was left out of the loop.

In ORIGINAL SIN, frequent flashbacks are used to flesh out Lucy's backstory as Sally. I enjoyed these sections, but I wonder if Beth McMullen revealed too much in the first back. It seemed as if Sally Sin's career highlights were covered by the end of ORIGINAL SIN.

Many elements of ORIGINAL SIN are predictable. The domesticity often adds a pleasant twist, but doesn't change the overall trajectory. If you like spies and want something quick and light, it's well worth picking up. If you're more of a Ludlum or le Carre fan, McMullen's debut probably isn't your speed.

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