When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective. Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape. Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the Caribbean. Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.
In this exciting second installment of the Vera Kelly series, Rosalie Knecht challenges and deepens the Vera we love: a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fiber, and martini-dry humor who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart.
I loved Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht so much when asked to review it as part of the blog tour, that I immediately placed Vera Kelly is not a Mystery, the sequel on pre-order and I am delighted to say that it is splendid in very single way imaginable!
I started my post of Who Is Vera Kelly? by suggesting my review should be entitled, ‘Vera Kelly I Love You’! Thinking on this, I’m wondering if an alternative tile for this review should be ‘the love affair continues’!!
Vera is no longer a spy, but having lost both her girlfriend and job in the sane day decides to use her talents to set up as a private investigator. From this we are taken through a story full of thrills, heartbreak, love, discovery and friendship, all wrapped up in the perfect characterisation that is Vera herself. Fractured and damaged still, she is though on a road towards a better understanding of herself.
Feeling self indulgent and not wanting to be separated from Vera I read this book, except for a hour the night before, in one day, Rosalie Knecht enveloping me in her perfect characterisation, making me fall helplessly in love with this character all over again. It would have been easy to just have Vera striding through through more intrigue, pitting herself against dark forces to find a missing child, without developing her in anyway, but that would have been doing Vera an injustice. So I was overjoyed to see how she took the character on a journey that was as much about her acceptance as person worthy of love, as it was about her ingrained desire to help a child as lost as she had been, find safety and family. Vera moves from a world where she wraps herself in the protection of detachment and remoteness and takes tentative steps towards connection and romance. She is still the reluctant, self reliant heroine we met in Who Is Vera Kelly?, but over the course of this, her second outing, she starts to open up to us and herself and it’s really quite wonderful. I immersed myself in her journey and found myself increasingly wishing that Vera would come to recognise how wonderful she is! You can’t though simply shrug off years of rejection, by her mother for being troubled and rebellious, by society because of her sexuality and that is where the emotional connection comes with the story comes from. The writer makes her feel richer, braver, but never loses sight of the troubled road she is on and how it shapes her reactions to events and the people she meets.
It is equal parts espionage thriller and love story, that feels larger than life as we move from America to the Caribbean and yet intimate as Vera seeks answers to the motivations of those seeking the boy and her own reasons for wanting to protect him. Her fledging career as an investigator brings a sense of suspense and excitement, with quiet moments as she struggles with her own demons allowing us to get closer to this on time spy.
This is an exceptional tale, with a unique heroine and I can’t wait to see where she goes next.
About the author
Rosalie Knecht is the author of Who Is Vera Kelly? and Relief Map. She is the translator of César Aira’s The Seamstress and the Wind (New Directions) and a Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow. She resides in New York City.