Wednesday, March 15, 2023

"Red London"

Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of eight novels, most recently Red London, Red Widow, The Deep, and The Hunger. Prior to the publication of her first novel, she had a thirty-five-year career as a senior intelligence analyst for several U.S. agencies, including the CIA and NSA, as well as RAND, the global policy think tank. Katsu is a graduate of the masters writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelors degree from Brandeis University. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband, where she is a consultant to government and private industry on future trends and analytic methods.

Katsu applied the Page 69 Test to Red London and reported the following:
From page 69:
There she is, that awful Russian mogul's wife. Didn't they just have some sort of home invasion on their vulgar property on Billionaires Row? Serves them right.
Page 69 of Red London finds Emily Rotenberg waiting to give a speech at a charity fundraiser, replacing her husband Russian oligarch Mikhail at the last minute. While she's thinking how little she wants to be there, she's run into by a woman, an American who doesn't realize she's the guest of honor. The two begin talking and Emily is quickly reeled in by the charming stranger whom Emily has no idea is a spy sent to try to recruit her into flipping on her husband.

This page is a good look into one facet of the story, which is Emily's perspective. Emily comes from a minor and somewhat impoverished aristocratic family. While beautiful, she never was able to find her place in the world until she was courted by Mikhail. Now she's trapped in a world that she doesn't completely understand, her family and her countrymen have turned their backs on her, and after Russia invaded Ukraine, her life is getting more dangerous by the day.

Emily is key to whether a reader will or won't like this book. The protagonist, CIA officer Lyndsey Duncan, is her usual smart, competent, determined self. Emily is the emotional heart of the book. I deliberately chose a plot that is part domestic suspense, which is popular now, in the hope that fans of that genre will give Red London a try.
Visit Alma Katsu's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Taker.

The Page 69 Test: The Hunger.

The Page 69 Test: The Deep.

The Page 69 Test: Red Widow.

Q&A with Alma Katsu.

The Page 69 Test: The Fervor.

My Book, The Movie: Red London.

--Marshal Zeringue