Take sure-handed writing, a great main character with a lot of snark, an awesome plotline, a romance on the rocks, and a possible Russian spy. What do you have? The recipe for a great book, and also an apt description of “I, Spy” by Jordan McCollum.
I’ll start off by saying that I did a little bit of editing (by little bit, read, twelve pages) on another project for Jordan, and I was very impressed. So when I heard this book was coming out, I knew I’d enjoy it. And I was right.
First novels tend to be a little timid. The author isn’t quite sure of themselves yet, they’re still navigating the market, they’re figuring out who they want to be as a literary artist. “I, Spy” started out with a bang and with the confidence that it takes some authors years to develop. If I didn’t know this was a first novel, I wouldn’t have guessed it.
Let me tell you a little about the story. Our main character is Talia Reynolds, an operative for the CIA. When the book opens, she’s creeping her way toward the target’s apartment via the ventilation shaft. The moment is tense, but the humor still shines through—the book is written in first person, and Talia makes great side comments to the reader. We see her pull off her mission and then we see her fight for the job of a co-worker, putting herself on the line by doing so. Right off the bat, we know she’s smart, gutsy, funny, and compassionate—all characteristics that make for a great heroine.
We also see her try to juggle a relationship—when you work for the CIA, you can’t tell your significant other what you do for a living until you’re ready to put a ring on it. Talia’s boyfriend, Danny, thinks she works for a law firm, but he’s beginning to think she’s keeping secrets from him.
Talia’s career dreams come true when she’s given the chance to track Fyodor Timofeyev, a Russian aerospace executive who might also be a spy. Talia lived in Russia and knows the language and culture. This case is right up her alley. But then she has to make some tough decisions—really tough decisions—and choose between her boyfriend and her country.
Not only do I praise Jordan for the quality of her writing, but I have to comment on the professional presentation of this book. It’s self-published, but everything about it is top notch. The cover is excellent, the typesetting looks very sharp, and the editing was great. I did think the commas and hyphens could have been tightened up here and there, but that’s nothing to squawk about. I think that all self-published authors should take their cue from Jordan and take the time to produce classy-looking books that are written well and full of great content.
You know you’re looking for a great read this summer—put “I, Spy” on your to-read list.