*Lynch, Christina. The Italian Party. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018. 336p. ISBN: 978-1-2501-4783-7. $25.99 Fiction

DEBUT In 1956, with Cold War hysteria in the air, newlyweds Michael and Scottie Messina arrive in Siena, Italy. Michael has been recruited by the CIA to stop the Communists from winning the mayor's race. Scottie just wants to be a good wife, without knowing exactly what that means. As a result of Michael's suspect sexuality (it was illegal at the time for gay individuals to work for the U.S. government) and a pregnant Scottie's attraction to other men, their carefree life turns first confusing and then dangerous. As Michael bumbles into dirty tricks, false-flag operations, and the caching of weapons, all in an attempt to impress both his gay handler and Clare Boothe Luce, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Scottie is ensnared by flirtatious lovers, the Palio (Siena's famous horse race), and her husband's spying. Will the secrets the two innocents abroad fail to reveal to each other destroy not only their marriage but the lives of others as well? VERDICT In her gracefully written debut, as effervescent as spumante, Lynch dramatizes the allure and power of secrets--in politics and marriage--while depicting with sly humor the collision between American do-gooder naivete and Italian culture. Italophiles and anyone interested in spying and the expat experience (think Chris Pavone's The Expats) will love the spot-on social commentary

Library Journal, 142, no. 18 (November 1, 2017).


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