School Library Journal
Selena Keller, a young scholar of Sanskrit literature, just isn't cut out for the life of an obscure academic. Impulsively, she answers an ad to work for the CIA, and the savvy New Yorker soon finds herself caught up in a culture as alien as any she had experienced in India or academia. Taught to recruit foreign nationals to serve as spies for the U.S., she learns covert operations at the agency's headquarters in McLean and paramilitary skills at its fabled "Farm" in rural Virginia. She makes friends and finds a lover, but her ambitious classmates tend to practice their new spycraft techniques on each other, and it is never clear how genuine these relationships are. Selena shows a talent for holding her own, and readers stay on the hook to see what happens next — and to find out what's really going on. Ultimately, a vestigial conscience — and a questioning intelligence that makes it impossible for her to embrace the Company spirit — proves to be Selena's undoing, and she finds liberation in a colorful ending. This fast-moving, economically told story has elements of humor, satire, and mystery. Though some readers will simply enjoy this book as spicy light fare, others will also savor its dark undertones.