by Annie Dolze
My Baby the Spy is the story of two spies working for opposing organisations. Anya Lisoyva from Ryzkanova, where the action in the novel is set and Alex Vance, an American. Their paths have crossed various times, over several years throughout the world. Both harbour a grudging respect that borders on trust for each other and also, a strong, mutual attraction. This attraction leads to a heady night in Venice, after which they go their separate ways once more. However, the evening has resulted in Anya falling pregnant, a fact she struggles with and ultimately cannot hide from the Ryzkanova Secret Service and Alex. The situation would be complicated enough without her current mission being to kill Alex and the novel opens with her attempting to fulfil this. Without spoiling the plot too much, this does not play out as expected and both Anya and Alex are pursued and double-crossed by their respective surveillance organisations. Their trust in each other, flimsy at best, is put to the test and their trust in their organisations, normally unshakeable, is tested to the limit. The plot leads both spies to question their loyalties and these spiralling doubts are combined with the small matter of their daughter barely a month away from being born.
I thought this was a really good little book. I found it entertaining, easy to read and nicely written. I thought the opening chapter was especially good. First chapters can either be very sparse and nervy or just far too overloaded with information and characters. This was perfect; succinct, convincing and you definitely want to read on. Throughout the majority of the book, I really did not know quite what was going to happen next and I was really pleased that the strands were all pulled together neatly, cleverly and believably. There is also a twist that I did not see coming for some time. I thought the characters were well-drawn, although I occasionally felt Alex was a bit too fluid, he could have done with a little more definition. He didn’t quite possess that hard edge which was alluded to and I think he needed more of at times. Anya was understated which worked; the beautiful, ice-cold Eastern European spy has been written many times over and Dolze writes her with just enough of that reality that she is not cliched. Similarly, this genre and the two spies that love each other narrative has been visited before, so again, we could have been on very hackneyed ground, but I found the story exciting, fresh and just very entertaining. The plot is not too complicated, which is good in a small novel and the writing flowed nicely.
I think that Dolze is a far better writer than she believes. There was an occasional apprehensive quality to her writing that needed a bit more confidence because I thought this was a fun, easy, entertaining, cleverly structured read. I would like to revisit Anya and Alex again; I thought this could be made into a series of similar novellas with their escapades. Editing was efficient, and I really liked the cover design, it is a good, strong image; again, I could see this being tweaked and used for further stories. Thoroughly recommended.