Wispa by Tim Parker
What does love have to do with the CIA, and international scandal? In Tim Parker’s tale of espionage and romance it’s the glue that cements secret operative duo Pamela and Jake to one another and leads them on a whirlwind journey at breakneck speed. Wispa opens with a chance meeting between the protagonist, “fully liberated woman” Pamela Mullen and her ex-boyfriend’s cousin, Jake Wells, as Pam returns to her alma mater for a reunion in the Berkshire Mountains. The intense chemistry between the two ignites a passionate weekend that neither saw coming. Sometimes love makes you do crazy things, and within two days of returning from her reunion, Pam steps down from her high-powered VP of Finance position in NYC to consult and dive headfirst into the arms of her newly found lover. As the couple get to know each other better, Jake let’s Pam into the shadowy underbelly of his life and reveals that he’s an ex green beret contracting with the CIA. With seemingly endless dedication to her man, Pam begins consulting with the CIA as well which turns out to be an exciting and dangerous departure from her corporate past.
The story of the CIA operation Pam and Jake got wrapped up in was entertaining, intellectual, and well developed. It will certainly appeal to a reader interested in a militaristic information chase, and someone who craves the resolution of a good mystery. However, the concept of a strong female lead exploring the possibility of negotiating a relationship was enticing, but as soon as the two main characters meet, Pam starts relinquishing the dominance and independent vision it took to break the glass ceiling in corporate finance, allowing the influence of this almost complete stranger to wash over her. It makes her come across as dutiful and complacent, and it was as though her personality was dampened before we got a chance to know her. The pace of the novel is as breakneck as the affair between Pam and Jake. While the plot points connect easily, since the timeline is short, they come across like they’re being listed, almost as though there should be an “and then… and then…” between them. Early scenes of passion are drowned in unnatural dialogue that makes sex very uncomfortable and set an awkward tone for a relationship that we seem expected to buy into. Parker does well at structuring a mystery, but the characters and relationships that support it left a lot to be wanted.
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