MLA Gold Award Site

Summary and book reviews of An Ordinary Spy by Joseph Weisberg

An Ordinary Spy

A Novel

by Joseph Weisberg

An Ordinary Spy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Dec 2007, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2009, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A former CIA case officer’s novel about two embattled spies who go to extraordinary lengths to keep their informants out of harm’s way, published as vetted by the agency itself.

Mark Ruttenberg may not be fit for the CIA. Early in his tenure with the agency, he learns about a former operative, Bobby Goldstein, and becomes curious about the case that led to his termination. Before he can get to the bottom of what happened, however, he's shipped off to                                 , where he hobnobs with foreign diplomats and informants, who have access to              information and contacts like the powerful General                     , in the hopes of recruiting them as agents. But, when he falls for the wrong woman, he's quickly sent back to                                 , with nothing to show for his secretive work but a mysterious postcard with an unknown address on it. Who sent the postcard, and where is it supposed to lead him? Could this all be an ops test, with Mark's future hanging in the balance? Soon, he'll have to decide if righting an old wrong is worth taking a terrible and very personal risk.

1

Several months before I was scheduled to leave for     , I was assigned to the       office in              . In my case, I was shipping out in August, so I would be in       for most of the summer.

It was a busy time in      , but the officers running country desks liked to handle their own work. They’d give me an occasional name trace to run, or have me coordinate a cable with another division. But I wasn’t busy. I’d read the morning traffic—cables from the stations in                       , and what ever           traffic was coming in. I’d stop by my friends’ offices throughout the building or meet them for coffee in the cafeteria. And one or two days a week, I’d take care of various tasks I had to accomplish before going abroad, like       &...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

An Ordinary Spy is deeply engrossing and gratifying, first for the details of spycraft, but lastingly for the contortions to which it puts the reader's mind as it wends its way though its complex moral questions.   (Reviewed by Amy Reading).

Full Review Members Only (733 words).

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

[A]n odd, well-written and interesting novel, a low-key corrective to all the razzle-dazzle spy tales we've read.

The New York Times - Mark Costello

Among its other satisfactions, this book is surely the best portrait of the working C.I.A. we have had in many years.

New York Times - Mark Costello

Among its other satisfactions, this book is surely the best portrait of the working C.I.A. we have had in many years.

Publishers Weekly

Given the quantity of blacked-out material, some readers may be more annoyed than intrigued as they puzzle over the missing information.

Kirkus Reviews

In a stab at verisimilitude, large chunks of the novel's text are blacked out, a technique that eventually becomes an irritating stylistic tic on the part of Weisberg. More slack than taut and disappointingly thin in characterization.

Booklist - Thomas Gaughan

There’s no Great Game, no derring-do, and the stresses of the work seem mostly imposed by the culture of the CIA. For those willing to contemplate the anti-Bond view of spying, this is definitely a book to read.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Redactions in Modern Literature

Though the memo at the end of the novel from the CIA Publications Review Board is addressed to the novel's protagonist, Mark Ruttenberg, thus revealing the redactions (blanked out text) as a fictional device to create an aura of authenticity, the novel did actually pass by the PRB—six times. Weisberg preemptively redacted his own work for security reasons as well as literary ones, ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked An Ordinary Spy, try these:

  • The Bricklayer jacket

    The Bricklayer

    by Noah Boyd

    Published 2011

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Someone gives you a dangerous puzzle to solve, one that may kill you or someone else, and you're about to fail... And there is no other option. No one who can help. No one but the Bricklayer.

  • The Tourist jacket

    The Tourist

    by Olen Steinhauer

    Published 2010

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Milo Weaver used to be a “tourist” for the CIA—an undercover agent with no home, no identity. But when the arrest of an assassin exposes new layers of intrigue in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out who’s holding the strings once and for all.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Atomic Weight of Love
    The Atomic Weight of Love
    by Elizabeth Church
    A prologue set in 2011 introduces readers to this novel's unforgettable narrator. Meridian ...
  • Book Jacket: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    by Con Lehane
    It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling...
  • Book Jacket: The Loney
    The Loney
    by Andrew Hurley
    Landscape can be a writer's best friend. Whether it's the mountains of England's lake...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
    by Phaedra Patrick

    In a poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Children

From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary

The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Greek T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.