Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: November 14, 2023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Thrillers / Espionage
IT’S THE CASE OF AMANDA’S LIFETIME, BUT SOLVING IT WILL REQUIRE HER TO BETRAY ANOTHER SPY—WHO JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE HER FATHER.
SPYING IS THE FAMILY BUSINESS. Amanda Cole is a brilliant young CIA officer following in the footsteps of her father, who was a spy during the Cold War. It takes grit to succeed in this male-dominated world—but one hot summer day, when a Russian defector walks into her post, Amanda is given the ultimate chance to prove herself.
The defector warns of the imminent assassination of a US senator. Though Amanda takes the warning seriously, her superiors don’t. Twenty-four hours later, the senator is dead. And the assassination is just the beginning.
Corporate blackmail, covert manipulation, corrupt oligarchs: the Kremlin has found a dangerous new way to wage war. Teaming up with Kath Frost, a fearless older woman and legendary spy, Amanda races from Rome to London, from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, unraveling the international conspiracy. But as she gets closer and closer to the truth, a central question haunts her: Why was her father’s name written down in the senator’s notes? What does Charlie Cole really know about the Kremlin plot?
The Helsinki Affair is a riveting, globe-trotting spy thriller—but this time, with a refreshing female-centric twist. Perfect for fans of John le Carré and Daniel Silva, this book introduces Pitoniak as a singular new talent in the world of spy fiction.
Anna Pitoniak's The Helsinki Affair is the authors follow up to Our American Friend, Necessary People, and The Futures. Pitoniak aimed to give readers a female heroine in the same league as the men in classic spy thrillers and I think she did a valiant job. 40 something Amanda Cole is a brilliant CIA officer following in the footsteps of her father, who was a spy during the Cold War. Amanda has worked for the CIA for 17 years. She is now in her second year as Deputy Station Chief for the CIA in Italy.
One day, a possible Russian defector by the name of Konstantin Semonov approaches the America Embassy claiming that he has important information about Senator Robert Vogel whose life may be in danger in Cairo, Egypt. Though Amanda takes the warning seriously, her superiors don’t. Twenty-four hours later, the senator is dead. And the assassination is just the beginning. After the Senator dies, Amanda is summoned back to the States where she assumes the new title of CIA Station Chief.
Amanda soon learns that Senator Vogel's Chief of Staff has discovered some cryptic notes about ongoing Russian operation, directed by the GRU unit 29155, that
manipulates the stock markets using viral social media posts. *This is not all that far fetched since a whole lot of Fake News is spread by Trolls and Bots in both Russia and China* The Senator's
notes also mentions Amanda's father name (also a CIA agent). Amanda decides to push ahead and not recuse herself from discovering the truth.
Teaming up with Kath Frost, a fearless older woman and legendary spy, Amanda races from Rome to London, from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, unraveling the international conspiracy. But as she gets closer and closer to the truth, a central question haunts her: Why was her father’s name written down in the senator’s notes? What does Charlie Cole really know about the Kremlin plot? Will she protect him and risk the career she prizes above everything? Or will Amanda sacrifice her beloved father and shatter his reputation to prove her fealty to the agency to which she has dedicated her life?
*Thoughts* The story goes back and forth in time between Amanda’s current operation and her father’s time as a spy in Helsinki in the 1980s. Both stories involve double crosses, traitors and the whole trust factor. I will say that I felt nothing for Charlie. People like him should have been imprisoned for life. One of the key factors in this story was Russia's ability to manipulate stupid Americans into doing what they asked. One could also say this about American business owners doing business in China where you are required to allow them to own a piece of your company which leads to theft of intellectual properties.
If you are asking yourself if it was a coincidence that I read two Espionage thrillers back to back, the answer is no. I just happen to like stories from the 1980's and 1990's when Russia and the US had not only double agents, but sometimes triple agents. When the US was funneling money and weapons to the group who would one day be lead by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, while the Russians were using traitorous CIA agents to leak important information that would have exposed all of deep cover CIA agents in the Middle East. Do I have an underlying hatred for the CIA? You are damned right.