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A Most Clever Girl

Author: Stephanie Marie Thornton

Started: Aug.30, 2021

Finished: Sep. 5, 2021

Thanks to Stephanie Marie Thornton, Berkley, and Edelweiss+ for the chance to read this book in return for an honest review. This book has a publication date of Sept. 14, 2021.

Catherine Gray has just lost her mother and learned the news that will forever change her life. She confronts the one woman who can answer all of her questions, Elizabeth Bentley, a famous spy, and Communist. While holding her at gunpoint, Catherine demands that Elizabeth be held accountable for killing her mother. For this to happen, Catherine must learn Elizabeth's history.

Elizabeth Bentley has lost her parents and has no friends to speak of. She soon meets a woman named Lee who lives in her apartment house and is recruited into the American Communist Party. Soon after, it is determined that she is far more valuable to the Party than originally thought and she is soon taught how to be a spy and pass that information along to her handler who gives her the code name of Clever Girl. As she and her handler become more involved, she is given access to untold secrets that make her invaluable. After her handler dies, she continues to operate on her own until the Party decides she is incapable and demands she step down. To protect herself, She goes to the FBI and is made a double agent - she would now report the Party's movements to J. Edgar Hoover. During the height of the Cold War, Elizabeth testifies before the Senate regarding her contacts within the Communist Party to stay alive. Catherine learns that there is more to Elizabeth than she ever imagined.

I had never heard of Elizabeth Bentley before and I found the story based on her life thrilling. The research was well done and told in a manner that you wanted to read the story quickly as well as make it last. Stephanie Marie Thornton did a fantastic job of weaving the fact with the fiction to ensure a readable story that made the reader want more. This was my first read by Thornton but I can guarantee that it will not be my last.

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