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by Alex Carr
Random House, March 2007
240 pages
ISBN: 0812977084

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

AN ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN is the first of a new series from author Jenny Siler using the pseudonym Alex Carr. It introduces readers to Nicole Blake, a rather unusual character and the accidental American in the novel.

Blake, whose family is Lebanese and American, has retired as a master forger. She has experienced enough excitement and danger in her life and a six-year stint in Marseilles' harshest prison also cured her of any thought of returning to her old profession. She now spends her time doing the odd job to help pay for her undemanding life and pottering around her garden in the French Pyrenees.

However, her peaceful life gets turned upside down when John Valsamis, a US intelligence operative, turns up on her doorstep with a document from Interpol which is only reserved for people considered to be a terrorist threat. The accused person in question is Rahim Ali, a former colleague and lover. While Nicole does not believe the allegations by Valsamis are true, the evidence he produces persuades her otherwise and she reluctantly agrees to track Ali down.

Ali was last seen in Lisbon and Nicole believes that it wont take her too long to track him down and prove his innocence. Nicole and Ali do meet but he is shot to death by Valsamis much to Blakes dismay and astonishment. However, before he dies Ali manages to tell Nicole of a suspicious document that she subsequently finds in his office.

Valsamis now has Nicole in his sights and plans to kill her. While she escapes his attempts, she also tries to decipher what is going on and why it should lead to her ex-lover being killed and her own life being in danger.

AN ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN is very much an espionage novel in the mode of Le Carre. Nicole Blake is a gutsy and odd character who would love to gain the approval of her father (despite the fact that he was the one who handed her over to the police). Her resolve has been strengthened by her period in jail and it certainly stands her in good stead when she travels on a train to Lisbon and she begins to feel that matters are not all that they seem.

This is also a dark and thought-provoking thriller with smooth pacing which keeps the storyline ticking over rather nicely. With double and triple crosses taking place, it is an exciting and certainly an intriguing novel. The mood is gritty and brilliantly drawn and the intricate layers of lies and treachery certainly enhance the novel and ensure that as a reader you want to find out what happened.

The only problem that I found which was slightly disconcerting was the back-story of Nicole's childhood and a previous romance. This could have easily been left out or reduced without any diminishing effect on this superb novel. Blake is certainly a character that I would like to read more about.

Reviewed by Ayo Onatade, February 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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