Cover Image: The Spy Who Never Was

The Spy Who Never Was

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Member Reviews

I love the premise of the Nora Baron books which has a middle aged mother and drama teacher starting an undercover role as a CIA operative when needed. Her husband, a likable character, has been with the CIA for years, and that is how Nora is drawn into the role. This 3rd book in the series was every bit as good as the others.

In this one, Nora is called upon to play the role of a well known agent, but the identity is actually just a front used by several agents when necessary. This assignment places Nora in grave danger as she tries to trap a blackmailer. She encounters secrets, lies, and is stalked by assassins. As usual, Nora keeps her cool and is determined to carry out the assignment.

The Nora Baron Series is a very good one, and the storyline in this installment kept me mesmerized. Nora is a wonderful character and I look forward to many more of her adventures. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
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3.5 spy filled stars

Nora Barton is quite the accomplished woman. She is a mother, a drama teacher, a wife. She is also a spy. Nora has just been recruited by a spymaster who offers her a top secret mission. For Nora taking on the identity of a Chris Waverly was too good an assignment to pass up. Chris Waverly was a legend in the department but as is told to Nora, Chris is a phantom, a made up person. It is a name that is shared by many agents who work all around the world. The bad news is that a ransom note has appeared which threatens to blow the cover off these agents, and for some of them that means death.

Chris accepts the mission and travels to Paris where she enters a world of being stalked by assassins, lied to by he own people, and eventually ends up in the Swiss Alps where she comes face to face with the real truth behind the Chris Waverly name.

For those who enjoy the intrigue of the spy business, this was a fine novel. It is the third of the Nora Barton series, but certainly can be read as a stand alone.

Thank you to Tom Savage, Random House, and Netgalley for providing an advanced copy of this novel for an unbiased review.
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This is my first book by this author.  It was ok.  An average, fairly entertaining read.  Felt like a bit of wish fulfillment for every middle-aged woman out there  ;)  I found the heroine likeable, if a little too unbelievably perceptive at times (some very far-fetched assumptions and deductions) and dense at other times (I mean, if even *I* could figure it out...).  It might be helpful to have read the earlier Nora Baron books, but since I hadn't, I wasn't familiar with the character and she seemed fairly unbelievable to me.  That aside, I still enjoyed the book.  It was lighthearted fare that wasn't gory, complex, or overly taxing to read.  (Side note - I'd love to read a spin-off book about the female driver from this book - that was a fun character)  Good for a quick read.

I received an ARC from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a fun thriller, however at times I think areas may have been edited out and no one realized what that did to the story.  
Nora is an actress who is married to a CIA agent.  She just so happens to be used for some missions as well, though never had any formal training.  She gets asked to perform a mission for the CIA to step into the shoes of another spy, Code name: Rose. 
However, her ability to perform an operative’s job with only an actress’ training seems a little far-fetched, even for a fictious book.  But putting that aside, it is a fun journey to take with Nora.  I like the fact that she is a middle-aged woman who is thrust into the world of espionage; not a normal trait for characters in these types of novels.  
Where the issue of plot jumps comes in is when Nora starts to piece the mystery together.  While some of what she figures out makes sense, some of her jumps in logic are seemingly out of nowhere. And yet, they are always correct.  That’s why I think something was taken out a few times and the transition was never quite corrected. 
But those oddities aside, I still recommend this book!  It is a fun, fast read in a world of espionage, traveling the world, narrow escapes, and the power of love.
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The Spy Who Never Was is a light spy novel.  The central concept is that the CIA for years had attributed its activities in various parts of the world to a single spy who never actually existed.  But, it was important nevertheless to the Agency to let the legend grow.  In order to draw enemies out into the open, Nora Baron (whose name is a palindrome) is given the identity of the imaginary spy and sent to Paris.  Nora, despite having years of experience, is a bit of an amateur and has a real life as a housewife and mother.  A lot of the usual spy versus spy things are here from who can you trust to what is the real mission.  It’s a fast-paced airport read that many may find appealing.  A more hard-edged, more realistic feel might have increased its appeal to me.
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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know that Tom Savage is one of my favorite authors, so you shouldn’t be surprised that I gave this book five stars. Some authors just hit all the right words and phrases to make their books my forever favorites.

I fell in love with this author after reading A Penny For The Hangman, and I have fallen hard for his Nora Barron series. Nora rocks the whole amateur spy character with class! As an award winning actress and drama coach, Nora can slip into and out of various personas with ease and class. If I mentioned class more than once, it’s because Nora is the ultimate in class! 

Mr. Savage takes Nora all over Europe. I’ve traveled with her to London, Paris and now Lucerne. And not just the cities. We get to explore the country-side right along with her. Having never been to Europe, I trust the author to be as honest as he can be within the constraints of his stories, knowing that some places are fictional, and knowing that my own knowledge of geography will tell me the difference. I get immersed in the places as well as the stories.

Then we have the supporting characters! Jacque Lanier, who first appeared in Mrs. John Doe, with his love of American slang...which he invariably back, and he’s just as charming and helpful in this book as he was before. I was glad to see him back in action. There are always great side characters in a great book, and this one proves the point.

This book, like all of the Tom Savage books, is a mystery and suspense, so it’s nearly impossible to say much without giving away elements of the story that you just need to experience for yourself. My now very teeny, tiny complaint in this story is that we didn’t see enough of Nora’s Uber-Hot husband, Jeff until the very end. He did not disappoint!

If you are a fan of the mystery/suspense genre, you’ll love this book. If you’re not a fan of the genre, why not? Give this series a chance and you might be a fan for life! Grab a copy and...


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The Spy who Never was is the third book in the series Nora Baron by Tom Savage. Nora is a professor in the theater department at Stony Brook University in New York State. He husband Jeff had been a field agent for years for the CIA only recently getting a desk job in New York running international ops. It was when she accompanied her husband to Paris once when she accidentally got involved in an operation, the subject of the first book in the series. Now she has received her second assignment, which before accepting she stated had to end in a week because she would have to be back for the start of the new semester and other personal obligations.

Having acted in multiple roles in theater and on TV, Nora likes to impersonate other people and in this case she must I personnage Chris Waverly, who is not a real person, but someone(s)who has operated in three countries under that name but whose work has been credited to a mysterious operative known as Rose. There days after being summoned by an agent known to her husband as a wealthy suit, Nora was on her way to Paris in the guise of Julie Campbell, a nurse. Yet when she arrives in Paris, she is met as Chris Waverley, her operators have let it be known that she is arriving, and notices two people following her, a man and a woman, the latter being one of them according to her young driver, a new CIS agent.

After the young agent leaves her in her hotel room, Nora goes to take a shower and when getting out hears a click of the door. It is then she realizes that she’s being used as bait, to draw out some potentially dangerous criminals.

While having lunch the next day with Amanda, her boss on this mission and the woman who she saw following her in the airport, she receives a signal from a young woman to meet her in the ladies room. She is Cecile Lanier, wife of Pierre and the two of them work for a French security outfit, the Sous Direction Anti-Terroriste, commonly known as the SDAT that had saved her on her first mission. She is to meet mmediatelly with Pierre at a local restaurant and In what seems to be all too convenient, the two have an assistant at Nora’s hotel, who can get her in and ou without being observed by her operatives.

From here it becomes obvious that things are not what they seem. After she is attacked in an alley and Ben, her driver, has disappeared she and the reader wonder what she has gotten into, Unfortunately, although there is a complex mystery here, this is not a thriller. There are a few close calls, but it rarely gets exciting. The solution is too facile, and except for the writer’s ability to paint a scene, especially when she arrives in Switzerland, I didn’t find much tension here.

This ARC was made possible through NetGalley. Thank you to Alibi - Random House Publishing Group for making this pre-release available.
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This was a solid 3.75 stars upgraded to a 4.  This time the CIA calls in Nora to play the part of a former spy and assassin who was purportedly more than one person.  Nora is to go to Paris for approximately five days in this role to show the rest of the undercover world that she is still around.  Nora agrees and learns a lot about the situation while in Paris.  She calls upon old friends and cohorts to assist her and ultimately goes to small town in Switzerland where the climax ensues.  It is well written with well defined characters and a complex plot that will readily hold the reader’s attention.  Thanks to Net Galley and Alibi for an ARC for an honest review.
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This book intrigued me from page one and held my attention throughout.  I loved each twist and unexpected turn.  The characters were very interesting and the scenic descriptions of the areas and towns made me believe that I was really there.  Although this was my first discovery of Mr. Savage's work, I will be reading all of his books, and already list him among my favorite authors.
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Different type of plot, but enjoyed the travel through Europe.
Surprising ending that i didn't see coming.
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Nora Barron is an acting teacher in New York who is married to a CIA agent. She has been called in to help with a mission, putting her acting skills to the test. This is the third installment of the Nora Baron thrillers, and it is an enjoyable, easy read. Think of these as "thriller-lite" (in the vein of Stuart Woods) and you won't be disappointed. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Spy Who Never Was is my second Nora Baron book. Like with my first read, The Woman Who Knew Too Much, I do not regret the read and will almost certainly continue reading ensuing installments; however, the characters and plot lines are still a bit "cheesy" even vis-a-vis the norm in this genre. It was kinda fun, though, and a nice, lazy read. If you like that kinda of thing, you may enjoy it.
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Okay book for me.

The whole premise of mother/wife/drama teacher, oh yeah and spy soured me a little.  I DID LIKE THE STORY LINE THOUGH.

The entire things for sure were not, was it a real person or just a legend, who or what were the 3 CIA folks that were not right from the start.  I would say take a chance on it.
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I love Tom Savage's Nora Baron series.... wonderful espionage, amateur slueth, drime drama. Nora uses her skills as an actress in her part-time CIA capers. Highly Recommended
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I love Savage’s work, and this title is his best to date. I got my copy free and early thanks to Net Galley and Random House Alibi. You can get it January 9, 2018. 

Nora Barton is our protagonist, and she is recruited by Edgar Cole as an unofficial CIA agent—she has been helpful to the Agency before—because of her physical resemblance to someone being targeted by the enemy, an enemy known as TSB. 

“Edgar Cole was using her as bait: here, kitty, kitty. Now Nora was in Paris with TSB, and the two of them were playing an elaborate game of I-know-you-know-and-you-know-I-know, and Nora wondered what would happen next in their little charade.”

Nora isn’t allowed to tell her husband, who is an intelligence agent himself, but she tells him some of it anyway. I smile, knowing I would do the same. He tells her not to accept this assignment—absolutely not—but Nora doesn’t take orders from him, and she makes the decision to go. 

Savage writes true thrillers. Like his other novels, this one grabs you by the hair on the first page and doesn’t let go. I am accustomed to the traditional story arc, rising toward a climax, but that’s not what we get here; instead, there’s a huge surprise around every corner. My pulse raced while I read this thing, and my blood pressure rose. There are several places in my notes throughout the book that say “Holy crap!” or, “My heart!”

Once in Paris, people start getting dead. That agent that was attacked because he was guarding her—wait a minute, was he guarding her? Nora isn’t sure who she can trust, but happily, she has a personal friend, an elderly fellow now retired from intelligence that lives in Paris. Her friend’s message to her is sobering indeed: “Go home, Mademoiselle.”

Every now and then Savage breaks up the tension for a split second with humor, and I love this. Her mentor in Paris prides himself on his English use, and he misuses idioms in ways that are charming and sometimes very funny, and this is done in a way that doesn’t mock the French or anyone else. Savage is a pro, handling this delicate characteristic deftly. The mentor tells Nora that a spy known as “Le Faulcon” is here to kill her; he is a “Russian hitting man”. 

Whoa now. Frankly, I would be on the plane back to the States in a jiffy; but then, I would not have gone at all. Nora, on the other hand, is a badass.

This leads me to my very favorite aspect of Savage’s work, which is becoming a literary signature: women generally don’t get saved by men here. Women either save themselves, or they save others. But in this regard, Savage is the ultimate anti-noir author. There are no helpless women. Three cheers for Savage’s powerful feminist fiction. 

Last, let’s look at the side characters. There are a host of them, and a number of them are known by multiple names, so this is not a beach read. I quickly learned not to read this story after I took my sleeping pill, because if I did, I would just have to read it again the next day. In addition to our colorful older French mentor, Savage introduces a new character named Fanny that I would love to see again. 

Get it digitally or get it on paper, but if you love a well-crafted psychological thriller, you have to read this book.
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I love a good spy thriller, and this one delivered!  It was well-written and the plot was interesting and kept me on my toes.  I read the book in one sitting!  This is the third book in the series, and it didn't seem to matter that I hadn't read the previous two.

Nora Baron is a part-time spy for the CIA.  Her husband Jeff works for the CIA full-time, but Nora has helped out before and made some contacts on her own.  This particular job should be easy.  She needs to go to Paris and pretend to be another spy who never existed.  Unfortunately, Nora's spymaster has another unspoken agenda in mind.  She gets suspicious and reaches out to her own contacts to get out of trouble and find out the real story.  This takes her to Switzerland where her life is endangered.

This is a rollicking spy novel and I highly recommend it.  Thanks to Alibi and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the third book in the Nora Baron series. Perhaps the story would have been enhanced by reading the first two. I like that our heroine is almost 50 years old and a drama teacher who sometimes works for the CIA. The story itself has a lot of players and often didn't flow really well. The descriptions of place were detailed. The ending came together with an improbable tidy ending. Not a series I will be revisiting.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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Intriguing spy novel that begins in Paris and travels to an isolated Swiss alpine village. Found plot and characters fascinating.
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The Spy Who Never Was is a very entertaining look at the world of espionage, yet it  is told from a viewpoint often not seen in spy tales. This is the occasional spy, one not bound by all of the circumstances of the CIA. When she learns that a top CIA official may be running his own ops, the action gets going and the reader's interest doesn't wane. Thanks, NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel.
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This is the first Nora Baron book I’ve read and I will be back for more.  As described by other reviewers, the plot is clever, yet the ending isn’t surprising. While also strong on setting, my quibble comes with little things that make Nora (whose palindromic name is a wonderful touch) just a tad unbelievable. Would a non smoker who is traveling across borders really be carrying a disposable lighter in her bag?  Can she really see so we’ll in a dark wet forest?  But those are just quibbles. The Spy Who Never Was is a good hard-to-put-down read.
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