Mrs. John Doe Review
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Most of us will never find ourselves in the middle of a life-or-death situation, chased by terrorists, spies, and assassins. But in the spy thriller Mrs. John Doe, author Tom Savage takes an average woman out of her peaceful suburban life and puts her in the middle of an international conspiracy.

The story begins as wife, mother, and acting professor Nora Baron is informed that her husband, Jeff, has been killed in a car accident while on a business trip in England. She immediately packs her bags and catches the first flight to London, where she’s taken to the hospital to identify her husband’s body and collect his personal effects. As she makes her way back to her hotel, though, a mysterious man tries to snatch her purse. And when she receives a message that sends her racing off to Paris, she finds herself fearing for her own life.

Mrs. John Doe isn’t the typical spy thriller, with trained agents racing around the globe to prevent worldwide disaster. Instead, it sets up an intriguing scenario: a suburban wife and mother is suddenly forced to live the life of a spy, disguising her identity and carefully planning each move in order to keep herself safe while she tries to figure out whom to trust. The only experience she’s had with weapons and espionage has included props and a script—and her inexperience adds tension to an already suspenseful thriller.

Meanwhile, the twists in the story come early and often. In fact, the first major twist comes within the first couple of chapters—and each new surprise is sure to keep readers guessing what’s coming next. Savage takes his time in revealing information—and, for the most part, his storytelling choices will help to place readers in the middle of the action, trying to figure out the truth along with the main character.

Still, the story doesn’t always feel solid, and it leaves some nagging questions—the biggest of which may be why Nora needed to be involved in the first place. Savage also has a tendency to talk down to his readers, taking too much time to explain things that don’t really matter—whether it’s spy jargon or European slang. Nora is constantly emphasizing words like “boot” and “bonnet” and correcting herself to refer to her “mobile” instead of her cell phone—even in her own thoughts. And she puts quite a bit of focus on her career as an actress, constantly pretending that she’s just playing a role in this adventure. Not only do these little details make the character sound somewhat superior, but they may take readers out of the action.

Mrs. John Doe is definitely a fast-paced thriller—one with plenty of unexpected twists. But in order to enjoy it, you’ll have to overlook some rather frustrating flaws in the story and its telling—and that just might be too much to ask.

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