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3.7 out of 5 stars38
3.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First of all,I don't usually read spy novels. Given the CV of the author (Ex Spook) I decided to give this one a go. Dara Mcintyre is a spy, bored in her day job at Langley where she is given a low level desk job. Then suddenly asked to look into a previous agent and her work.

Dara's investigations lead to the edge of a conspiracy that leads right into the heart of Langley.

To say this was written by a CIA operative I find some of the plot a little far fetched, although the writing style seemed relaxed throughout the tension is obvious. Why do authors insist on involving a love interest in their books? sometimes they just get in the way and I find myself hoping that they will be the villain/next victim!!

I am sure that the author will mature as she writes more, I'm looking forward to more works from her.

Not brilliant, but well worth a read.
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VINE VOICEon 16 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
All the hallmarks of an insider novel with good detail and interesting characters. Notable that that the CIA personnel are depicted as normal people with normal issues that can be found within any large organisation, including the over-promoted jerks that we all know, not the steely eyed focused types that we are used to from non-insider authors. Worthy first book, hope there are more.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 19 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
CIA agent Dora McIntyre has been given a new office and a new job title "Counter Intelligence Referent" also known as an interfering desk jockey. Dora is now fastened to a desk because she had an affair with another country's spy. She is asked to review the mindset of an agent who has just been widowed. I have to ask why an untrained woman would be asked to perform a psychological evaluation, especially a person whose own suspect behaviour has lead to the current desk job.

Anyhow, as she sticks her nose into the widow's private life and family business she believes that she has discovered something strange.

This is the first story by former undercover CIA officer JC Carleson ... I just hope her CIA cover stories were more convincing that the one she has produced for this book.

It's not that it's a bad story; it's just predictable and, at times, a little boring. There are also moments which go further than beggaring belief.

I understand that real life situations for the secret service don't involve Bourne-like fights, or Mission Impossible-type dangling from ceilings or running round the outside of a glass building using a fire-hose, but when reading about spies you really want some action and adventure.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Cloaks and Veils by J C Carleson is about a disgraced CIA agent, Dora McIntyre who has been given a desk job because she couldn't keep her knickers on and got caught. Unhappily she is now investigating a recently widowed agent only to discover some very dark, shady goings on.

Unfortunately, for me, this was so dark and shady, I couldn't find them. In fact, I just couldn'g get past the first few chapters. Nothing grabbed me enough to care about what was going to happen, which is a shame as this sounded like a very good book. The concept is actually very good, sadly the writing and story didn't match up to my expectations, but that's not to say you won't enjoy it, dear cautious reader...
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't recall the last time I read a spy novel. I ordered this book because I'd been hooked by hit US TV series "Homeland", which had just finished its first season, and wanted more. The plot similarities, and the author's credentials, were what drew me to it.

The central character in "Homeland" was a female CIA agent sent back from operations in the Middle East to the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as punishment for transgressions at work ... which is remarkably like the premise for "Cloaks and Veils". The similarities continue. Both Carrie ("Homeland") and Dara ("Cloaks and Veils") are strong characters in their mid-thirties. Both employ unorthodox methods. Both have love affairs which compromise their operational performance and professional standing. Both are on probation, with something to prove.

But what really decided me to hit the "buy" button was the fact that the author, J C Carleson, had, "spent nearly a decade as an undercover CIA officer travelling to hotspots round the globe". Her writing would be informed by personal knowledge and experience.

And the book delivers. Although I'm in no position to check accuracy, the wealth of operational detail is incredible. One fascinating aspect is just how much of the CIA's efforts are apparently spent investigating and monitoring its own officers. Who knew, for instance, that there's a whole department dedicated to administering regular polygraph tests to staff? The book added another layer of understanding to my viewing of "Homeland".

Happily the author doesn't get bogged down in detail nor use it to pad out a thin plot. Instead, she effectively employs her years of experience to support and develop a strong and original story line that kept me riveted right to the end.

On the down side, at times the individual characters don't seem that distinct, as if the author can only really write from one perspective. Characters sometimes seem to act and react in similar ways. A couple of times it's hard to tell at first who is telling the story. This might perhaps be indicative of a new author finding her voice. Or perhaps the spy genre (with which I'm unfamiliar) demands more plot than characterisation.

However, the book's strengths far outweigh its slight flaws. The tale is shot through with well-drawn paranoia, suspicion and mistrust. Everyone is analysing and manipulating, strategizing and manoevering. The plot's twists and turns and its global perspective are impressive.

If you like spy novels, suspense, heroines and even romance, this book may well be for you. I enjoyed the book immensely and I'll be looking out for the follow up novel.
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VINE VOICEon 9 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In this rather tightly plotted and cleverly written novel about modern American spooks, we're once again in the world of a lethally incompetent and utterly bewildered CIA, floundering about in a complicated world it doesn't understand and can't control.

The author claims to have been a CIA field operative for a decade and it's a view of the CIA that somehow feels horribly authentic. It looks like they really are that baffled, that easily fooled and that devious and ruthless with their own people...

In this familiar world lives Dara, a rather nice CIA field operative who has had an affair with an Arab spook and so has been relegated to a desk back at CIA headquarters checking the expenses of other spies. One must assume something like this happens in all such agencies!

Anyway, while she's down amongst the claim forms something wicked her way comes and she ends up jetting half way around the world before, predictably, the whole plot returns to CIA headquarters where everyone concerned turns out to be far more worried about covering up their messy internal plotting than saving the world for democracy.

There are a couple of gaping plot holes but it kept me entertained over a wet weekend, mainly because it's well written and quite enthralling.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Cloaks and Veils is an interesting book, more so because you know the author has 'lived and breathed' what she is writing about. The story is your typical 'who is doing what to whom and where', with lots of twists and turns you'd expect from a thriller in this genre. Very engaging and well written.
But, it is the fact that the author has personal experience of this environment that for me let this down somewhat. I did feel at times she let her personal feelings for the CIA interfere with the story, and used this book to make some points about what she thinks is wrong inside this organisation. Especially when it came to operational procedure and hierarchy did I feel she was airing some of her frustrations.
However, I did like it. It was nice to have a female protagonist and the story itself moves along at a decent pace.
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on 12 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is thriller novel written by someone who has first hand experience of the subject matter (a former CIA officer) which immediately gives the book an air of authenticity. Like a lot of recent Nordic crime thrillers I have read, there is a focus on the mechanism and process of the investigation - which some people will find fascinating but I'm sure there are other readers who will just crave pure action instead (if so, then this might not be their kind of book). The characters all feel really well fleshed out and the storyline is grounded in reality. There is a good deal of intrigue as to who the real villains are and this helps build up the tension as the story unfolds. This is a smart novel, well written and worth taking a chance and picking up.
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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Dara McIntyre, a former CIA field agent, has been sidelined to a desk job as "punishment" for an illicit romance with a Jordanian Secret Agent. Given the job of babysitting a recently widowed agent whose CIA husband was kidnapped and murdered in Dubai, Dara embarks on an unexpected rollercoaster ride of intrigue, betrayal and treachery.
The author, JC Carleson, is a former CIA agent and while I thought her experience was evident in parts of her writing, I'm not sure that the CIA would be best pleased with the way in which it is portrayed - surely it can't be THAT incompetent!? An enjoyable read overall and while some of the events seemed somewhat contrived, I look forward to Ms Carleson's second book...when published.
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VINE VOICEon 15 August 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a first novel it's good. That said, it is nothing special. There wasn't enough thriller tension for me and the plot was more than predictable. Considering the author's considerable experience within the CIA it's a shame there isn't more shared about the inner workings. Only towards the end of the book do we get a teeny insight into the politics of this American institution.
She's off to a good start, but I want something more edge-of-my-seat tension to keep me turning the pages. And could we please go easy on the female agent who is in love with a foreign spy? It is so very dated and so boring and adds little, if anything, to the plot - any plot.
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