Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Spy in a Little Black Dress

Summary: Inspired by an actual letter in the John F. Kennedy Library written by Jackie and revealing her job offer from the newly formed CIA

When young Jackie Bouvier receives her second assignment from the CIA, she knows it will go better than her first. She managed to survive the Paris job-while looking her best in Givenchy, no less-but now she's completed her official CIA training. So she's excited to show her boss exactly what she can do for her country.

Her new mission: Go undercover in sultry Havana and investigate a young revolutionary named Fidel Castro. But before Jackie can infiltrate the communist cabal, she's in past her hemline in danger. In another exciting adventure, she colludes with Grace Kelly, dances with Frank Sinatra, and flirts with an up-and-coming congressman from Massachusetts.

As the international intrigue escalates, Jackie must use all her finely honed skills to stay ahead of her enemies . . . and make sure spying never goes out of fashion. -- Grand Central Publishing

Last week for Mystery Mondays, I reviewed a cozy that had a future first lady as the amateur sleuth called  A MARKED MAN: AN ABIGAIL ADAMS MYSTERY. This might sound a little strange, but this week I'm reviewing another book that has a future first lady as the main character. This time, the woman is a young Jackie Bouvier and the book is SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Maxine Kenneth.

SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS is the second book in this series -- the first being PARIS TO DIE FOR, and I thought it was pretty cute. I've always been a big fan of Jackie Kennedy's, and I've read quite a few non-fiction books about her life. SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS, however, is the first fictional account of her life that I've come across. While this book was most definitely fictional, the authors did try to tie back their basic premise to a real-life event. At the beginning of the novel, they actually cited a letter that Jackie wrote in 1951 declining an opportunity to work at Vogue magazine because she was offered a "special job on a certain project" with the Central Intelligence Agency. This series of books is their artistic interpretation of Jackie's escapades with the secret agency.

In SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS, Jackie receives her second assignment as an agent with the CIA. (Her first assignment was featured in PARIS TO DIE FOR.) She is asked to go undercover in Cuba to investigate a young Fidel Castor. Along the way, she meets some very famous celebrities including Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra; and of course, she also has a few encounters with her future husband John F. Kennedy. She also finds herself in loads of danger and tense situations; however, she manages to keep her wits about her as well as her iconic sense of fashion!

Even though SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS is book two in the series, I didn't have any problem with reading it first. There are loads of references to Jackie's first assignment in this novel, as well as her stay in Paris and her love life; and I don't think there are any major spoilers. Of course now I'm dying to read PARIS TO DIE FOR and see what adventures Jackie faced!

SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS was a cute mystery and I found myself laughing quite a bit as I read it. I thought many of the situations Jackie found herself in were extremely clever and sometimes even a bit far-fetched, but for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how Jackie both got herself into and out of some tight situations. In many ways, SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS reminded me a bit of a James Bond spoof with all of Jackie's secret identities and spying scenarios; however, it also reminded me of a very fun chick lit book filled with lots of talk about fashion and men!

Another thing I enjoyed about SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS was that the authors included a fair amount of real-life Jackie Kennedy facts into this entertaining story. Make no mistake about it, this novel was a lot of fun, but there quite a few facts about Jackie Bouvier Kennedy's life including information about her childhood and her relationship with her father. There were also some cameos by famous entertainers and politicians as well as some tidbits about the U.S. government, and there was even some foreshadowing of some major events that occurred much later during President Kennedy's term. In addition, I found some of the information about the political environment in Cuba, as well as the major players, to be extremely interesting.

Overall, I thought SPY IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS was a fun read, and I appreciated the authors' creative take on her life! Definitely recommended for fans of mysteries as well as readers who are interested in Jackie Kennedy.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sounds fun, but in general I'm opposed to messing with actual historical figures!

Beth F said...

Sounds like a fun cozy series.

Serena said...

I really like this. I'd love to get my hands on this series.

bermudaonion said...

I thought that looked like Jackie O on the cover! This sounds really cute - I could actually picture her as a spy. No one would suspect her.

Meg @ write meg! said...

This sounds like a blast! My mom has always been a huge fan of Jackie's, so I grew up fascinated by the Camelot era. Think I'll have to give this one a peek! (And how cute is that cover?)