The Helsinki Affair: A Spy Thriller that Misses its Mark

I always get excited for a new spy thriller, but The Helsinki Affair didn’t quite hit the target. The setup was intriguing—Amanda Cole, a CIA agent in Rome, gets a tip about a planned assassination of a US Senator. The premise promises high stakes and international intrigue. However, the execution was lackluster.

Amanda’s quest to unravel an international conspiracy after the assassination takes us on a whirlwind tour from Rome to Helsinki, yet the storytelling felt bogged down by too many details and awkward sentence structures. The narrative’s frequent point of view switches, especially noticeable in the audiobook, added to the confusion rather than the suspense.

Halfway through, the novel took on a nonfiction tone that seemed out of place in a supposed thriller. The characters lacked depth, and I struggled to stay engaged. Although the ending had a decent twist and left room for a sequel, the overall experience was underwhelming. I finished the book more out of a sense of duty, as it was an ARC, than enjoyment.

The novel’s bright spot was the potential of its premise and a few well-done scenes that reminded me of what could have been. I’m giving The Helsinki Affair 3 stars because it had its moments, but I was hoping for a lot more. Now, I’m planning to revisit the author’s earlier work, Our American Friend, which I’ve heard is much better. Here’s hoping it delivers the thrill that was missing here.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for a review copy of this book. The opinions are my own.




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