We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

American Spy

International Thriller Writers Award, 2020

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349700977

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 12th February 2019

Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Thriller / Suspense

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.




‘A whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love and of country’
‘There has never been anything like itMARLON JAMES (GQ)
‘A compelling read’ MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘Brilliant Cold War spy thriller. A gripping tale and an unusual take on the spy genre told from an intriguing perspective’ HWA DEBUT CROWN JUDGES

‘Pacy and very exciting’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love?

It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War. Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant and talented, but she’s also a black woman working in an all-white boys’ club, and her career has stalled with routine paperwork – until she’s recruited to a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Thomas, seduce him, and ultimately, have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, and a good American.

‘A stunning book PAUL BEATTY
‘Intelligent and propulsive’ GUARDIAN
‘A spy thriller like you’ve never read before’ TIME


Echoing the stoic cynicism of Hurston and Ellison, and the verve of Conan Doyle, American Spy lays our complicities-political, racial, and sexual-bare. Packed with unforgettable characters, it's a stunning book, timely as it is timeless
Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sellout
American Spy is by turns suspenseful, tender, and funny, always smart and searingly honest. Lauren Wilkinson renders the world of spies with vivacity and depth, and shines a penetrating light on what it's like to be a black woman in America. But like all great novels, this one teaches us most about ourselves and our values
Sara Novic, author of Girl at War
This unflinching debut combines the espionage novels of John le Carré with the racial complexity of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
Publishers Weekly
So much fun... Like the best of John le Carré, it's extremely tough to put down
It might seem hyperbolic to say that this book is riveting and thrilling from the very first page, except that it totally is. . . . It's a refreshing take on an espionage story . . . that's sexy and suspenseful in equal measure
Marie Claire
A gutsy new thriller . . . challenging boundaries is what brave fiction does, and Wilkinson proves confident enough to carry it off
New York Times
[In] this genre-defying novel . . . Marie's journey into the moral and spiritual morass of espionage is inventive . . . Unlike the heroes of John Le Carré's novels, Marie must also grapple with the cognitive dissonance of serving a country in which she is regarded as a second-class citizen
Vulture (Best Books of 2019 So Far)
Lauren Wilkinson reminds us of a less-covered side of the Cold War with her debut set in 1986 Africa. FBI agent Marie Mitchell is stationed in Burkina Faso, and when she's assigned to shadow Thomas Sankara, 'Africa's Che Guevara,' the personal, political and professional collide for her in unforgettable ways
Washington Post
For the novel's engaging intelligence and serious reckoning with the world's postwar order, Wilkinson deserves the comparisons to John le Carré she's already receiving. But in bringing a virtually unheard-from fictional viewpoint to espionage literature, she has reinvigorated the genre
A fresh perspective. Marie Mitchell, a black female spy, goes on a mission to track down Thomas Sankara, the African Che Guevara, and has to choose between love, her family and her country
Sunday Times
A smart page-turner that gives the genre a welcome shot in the arm
The i
A novel that will snatch your summer away. There has never been anything like it, and not because of the Black female spy telling the story, but the kind of story it is: espionage thriller, African political drama, wild romance and doomed family epic
Marlon James, GQ
An intelligent and propulsive debut tackles issues of politics, race, gender and moral ambiguity in a tale of espionage that moves between black FBI agent Marie Mitchell's 1960s New York childhood, her involvement in the 1987 Burkina Faso coup d'etat as a CIA operative and her retreat to Martinique in 1992
American Spy is unusual, intelligent, compassionate and thoroughly original
Shots magazine
[A] romantically offbeat mix of fiction and fact
Peterborough Evening Telegraph
The genre-breaking spy story . . . If this isn't made into a film/HBO series then there's something wrong with the world. Written with verve and detail, this is a fantastic thriller that explores the black experience in Reagan's America, the personal vs political of serving your country and just who is on the side of righteousness
The endurance of the Mitchell family is inspiring, and their portrayal is vivid and sound. With American Spy the plot is gentler than other books you may read under the espionage genre. This serves as an effective and thoughtful book tackling less James-Bond style action, instead focusing on the more grounded issues of gender and racial divisions that still exist today
Magic FM (Book club)
This is a true thriller of a read from Lauren Wilkinson
Pride Magazine
A most unusual espionage story . . . An exciting historical thriller is combined with a novel about whether a black woman can be a 'good American' as well as true to herself
Morning Star
Lauren Wilkinson's debut, American Spy, is a spy novel with a difference. Wilkinson brilliantly recreates the confusions, anarchy and self-contradiction of the US's clandestine involvement in African affairs
Irish Times
Mitchell is an engaging, complex protagonist: feisty and brave but also vulnerable. The story is told in the first person; Wilkinson takes us inside Mitchell's head, which is an interesting place to be. The scenes of New York and African life are sharply observed, the narrative often lyrical. This is an impressive debut, with a multi-faceted and engaging protagonist
Financial Times
If your idea of a cold war thriller is a 'white saviour' hero with conservative values rescuing the world from the Soviet menace, think again: American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson's intelligent and pacy debut set against the background of a real coup d'état, injects new life into this tired formula . . . this is a complex, powerful story of divided loyalties, double consciousness and moral ambiguity
Wilkinson paints a convincing and lively portrait of this fascinating real-life figure. A non-privileged protagonist in this poshest of genres is rare enough to make that the USP, but by any standards this is a fine thriller, thoughtful and dryly witty, richly textured and, when required, pacy and very exciting
Daily Telegraph
This debut gives a distinctive spin on the spy novel . . . A compelling read
Mail on Sunday
Written with considerable grace and insight, this is a remarkable and groundbreaking spy thriller
Irish Independent
A whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love and of country
Barack Obama
American Spy updates the espionage thriller with blazing originality
Entertainment Weekly
An extraordinary debut . . . a truly impressive, suspenseful bit of work
The Tablet
An often challenging but rewarding read that'll keep you taut and on your toes from a range of angles
Sunday Sport
Wilkinson paints a convincing and lively portrait of this fascinating real-life figure . . . [American Spy is] a fine thriller, thoughtful and drily witty, richly textured and, when required, pacy and very exciting
Spy fiction plus allegory, and a splash of pan-Africanism. What could go wrong? As it happens, very little. Clever, bracing, darkly funny and really, really good
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Lauren Wilkinson reclaimed the espionage thriller with her gripping, pawky American Spy, which has an African-American heroine instead of the usual posh, white men
Telegraph (Best crime novels and thrillers to buy for Christmas)
Sexism and racism complicate Cold War and familial secrets in this unusual and fast-paced debut
The Times (Best Thriller Books of 2019)
Unusual and fast-paced
The Times (Best thriller books of 2019)
Often, spy thrillers evoke familiar comforts, if also images of dusty covers and yellowed pages. But Lauren Wilkinson, while returning to a classic era (the Cold War), manages to reinvigorate the genre by following a character we haven't seen before
Blending fact and fiction, this intelligent and fresh take on the spy genre tackles race, loyalty and American politics
Sunday Times Crime Club (Crime books of the year)