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Past Perfect: A Novel

2.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  947 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
In Past Perfect, Susan Isaacs gives us one of her most glorious characters ever: bright, buoyant, and borderline luscious Katie Schottland. Katie seems to have the ideal life: a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son, and a dream job -- writer for the long-running TV series Spy Guys. But all is not as splendid as it should be because writing about the esp ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Scribner (first published February 1st 2007)
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Melissa McShane
Aug 27, 2015 Melissa McShane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This story of an ex-CIA analyst/report writer turned spy-show-writer is just fun--not groundbreaking, not a gripping spy thriller, just fun. What makes it four stars, for me, is Isaacs' writing, which is clever and fits the story perfectly. Katie, the main character, was fired from the CIA some twenty years before with no reason given, and it's bothered her ever since. Bothered her enough, in fact, that when a former acquaintance turns up asking for help in exchange for telling Katie why she was ...more
Jun 26, 2009 Lain rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a mess. This was a train wreck of a book, all the more disappointing because I adored Susan Isaacs' other books.

Katie Schottland, former CIA report writer, is now a somewhat famous writer of a weekly television spy drama, "Spy Guys." But despite her supposedly happy marriage and fulfilling life, she can't get over what happened a decade and a half before, when she was tossed from the CIA's "inner circle" without explanation.

When an old colleague gets in touch with her on a matter of "natio
Apr 18, 2010 Eileen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Issacs is an engaging writer, however the plot is thin and the mystery is convoluted and worse, non-sensical. There are gapping holes in the logic and in the conclusion. The main character Katie continually makes what are supposed to be logical conclusion with little or no evidence, and the reader is expected to accept that her guess work was all correct at the end, when there was no proof provided that her assumptions were accurate. A very disappointing book.
Feb 02, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a Susan Isaacs fan but haven't read anything of hers lately and was pretty delighted to see this at Costco. As in all of her books, her female protagonist is a strong, smart, but self-depricating hero. Katie can't really get over the fact that she was fired from the CIA for seemingly no reason over a decade earlier (a bit of an obsessive worrier myself, I could totally relate). When a former colleague calls out of the blue and says she can tell Katie why she was fired, Katie is immediately i ...more
Janis Harrington
Oct 20, 2014 Janis Harrington rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Janis by: No one
Past Perfect is my first Susan Isaacs book; and unless I am guaranteed by a friend whose opinion I trust, I will not read another. At first I thought I would enjoy the main character Katie Schottland because she is still haunted by being walked off her job at the CIA with no reason given for her dismissal. After all, she her job performance was exemplary. She thought she was being summoned for a promotion not a dismissal. Although she now has a successful tv shot, Spy Guys, a happy marriage and ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Marleene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So not worth the effort. Couldn't get into it until the last 30 pages and even that was disappointing.
Melissa Namba
I generously gave it two stars because it started out being fun and I feel like I should give it credit for that. This book will resonate with people who are or who know people who are so high strung, obsessive, and self absorbed that all rational thinking eludes them. This was really a crappy mystery novel written in a lower level of diction, like maybe it was intended for a tween who had to grow up a little bit too soon. I'm sure other people enjoyed this book, but I found the character and pl ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Nov 29, 2014 Kris - My Novelesque Life rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

"In Past Perfect, Susan Isaacs gives us one of her most glorious characters ever: bright, buoyant, and borderline luscious Katie Schottland. Katie seems to have the ideal life: a great husband, a precocious and winning ten-year-old son, and a dream job -- writer for the long-running TV series Spy Guys. But all is not as splendid as it should be because writing about the espionage business isn't nearly as satisfying as working in it.

Fifteen years earlier, Katie was in the CIA. She loved
Gloria Mccracken
Katie used to work for the CIA as an analyst, writing superlative economic reports. Then she was summarily fired and labeled a security risk, and she doesn't know why, not even 20 years later when this novel takes place. She couldn't get another job, based on her firing, so in desperation she writes a light-hearted novel called "Spy Guys", which is turned into a tv program on a small cable channel. She is married to a sterling fellow and has a charming young son, but she can't seem to shake her ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really enjoyed the couple other Susan Isaacs books I have read, but this one was harder for me to stay with. I enjoyed the main character, Katie Schottland's hilarious asides, but kept waiting for more to "happen." The end of the book had my attention again, but dragged in the middle. Katie, her Zoo veterinarian husband Adam, & son Nicky (who goes off to camp for the summer)live in NYC where she writes for the TV show Spy Guys. She worked for the CIA 15 years ago as a report analyst b ...more
Michelle Matthews-Calloway
Since I don't normally write reviews unless I have something specific to say and have the time to write it), here's the break down of how I rate my books...

1 star... This book was bad, so bad I may have given up and skipped to the end. I will avoid this author like the plague in the future.

2 stars... This book was not very good, and I won't be reading any more from the author.

3 stars... This book was ok, but I won't go out of my way to read more, But if I find another book by the author for unde
Jan 08, 2008 Ellenjsmellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I just finished this today and enjoyed it. It's a very past paced book about a former CIA employee who got fired for unknown reasons many years ago. Now living as a writer, a wife & a mom, she's been contacted by someone in her past who needs help and is willing to tell her why she was fired from the CIA.
Jun 16, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-abridged
CD/abridged/Mystery?: Big disappointment. I got this for two bucks at the library sale because I had listened to another Issac's book. This book is not a thriller, as there is no real suspense and not a mystery, or maybe I stopped caring.
It's the story of a former CIA agent, Katie, living her life as happy as possible. She was fired from the CIA without cause from her low level position. Without good references for a regular 9 to 5 job, she is now writing books and screenplays for her creation,
Nov 18, 2008 JBradford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't a novel about one of the lady lawyers working at Bennie Rosato's all-female law firm; instead, it features one "bright, buoyant, and borderline luscious Katie Schottland," who 15 years earlier had a good job as an analyst at the CIA but was abruptly fired for reasons that were never made known to her, even though she was having an affair with her boss at the time … recovering from her post-firing depression, Katie went on to write a novel about CIA agents that got turned into a TV sho ...more
Oct 20, 2008 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
Katie used to work for the CIA. One day, fifteen years ago, she got fired-- NO explanation! Since then she has written a spy novel, which was adapted as a fairly successful television show. You would think she would be happy, but somehow there is something missing. Then an acquaintance from her days at the CIA calls to talk to her about a matter of national importance-- and then promptly disappears. Soon, Katie is racking her brain and trying to figure out what secret she might know from her ana ...more
Elizabeth Quinn
I've been a big fan of Susan Isaacs for years, but this novel simply doesn't measure up to her earlier work. The elements of character and plot in this story seem lifted from a list of best bets for bestsellerdom: CIA backstory, check; TV production frontstory, check; unsatisfied have-it-all heroine, check; mystery that draws her back into clandestine work, check. The elements are there, but I felt my buttons being pushed every step of the way. And those add up to something unbelievable with sec ...more
Apr 11, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy the way Susan Isaacs writes. She lets the reader see how the subject is thinking as well as what he/she is saying. The fact that Katie can't let go of her release from the CIA years still impacts how she feels about her ability to be a success today. It wouldn't be a mystery unless we went along with her as she tries to solve the 20 year old question of why she was let go. Fortunately, she has a supportive husband and an ultra achiever family.
Sep 02, 2014 Judee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I give every book I read the 50 page test. If I am not hooked by the 50th page, I don't finish the book. This one almost didn't make it. I gave it a second chance and by the next 50 pages I knew I had to finish. There is a mystery which helps. There is also an awful lot of superfluous narrative that became tedious. So I skimmed over a lot of it to get to the decent dialogues. In the end there is some scary action involving the main character that was worth the long wait. Overall, it was an OK re ...more
When I was a kid at the movies I would occasionally find myself practically diving under the seat or hightailing it to the back of the theatre and hiding behind the heavy red velvet curtain, eyes scrunched shut and ears plugged tight until I was pretty sure the scary part had passed by.

Fifty years later: Something there is about a mystery or spy book or movie that makes you want to scream out to the heroine, “No! No! Don’t go there!” You know that it’s going to be an all’s well that end well ki
Annika Peterson
Jan 09, 2012 Annika Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book--a former FBI agent leads a realistic yet spunky life, and shows what a true mystery is supposed to be now- no gunfights or violence (okay, a little) but mystique. Katie used to be an FBI agent, but was suddenly kicked out, with no contact from them or anyone from there ever again. She never knew what she did, because right before hand everyone had been very pleased with her work. Every time she applied for a job, everything went great until they checked out her previous ...more
Mar 04, 2010 Judi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As my stars indicate, it was okay. I found the book in the laundry room of my building where some neighbors tend to leave things for people to take (they need to learn about I picked it up because the title references a verb tense and I teach ESL and ... nevermind ... my brain works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, the book is a quick read and mildly entertaining. I appreciated all the NYC references and thought the characters were interesting and amusing. I just didn't feel compell
Jan 20, 2015 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spy type novel. A bit like a TV show and in fact the heroine is a writer for a TV show about says who happens to be a former CIA low level agent who was let go without knowing the cause. She hears from a past coworker and sets off a search for her and for the reason for her firing. Stereotypical characters, a bit corny, a fair fluff read.
Oct 10, 2015 Jane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As another reviewer wrote: "The main character is annoying, the premise is implausible and the outcome is absurd." I felt optimistic with the characters early witty inner dialogue, but it quickly wore thin. My hope that an interesting plot would save the "narrative" was not met. Save your time for something better.
Jan 06, 2016 Ayelet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was debating between one or two stars but decided to be generous. This just isn't my style of book. The main character is neurotic and scatter-brained and reading her stream of consciousness drove me crazy. I didn't understand any of the supposed logic behind her pursuit of her friend. I only kept going to see what happened at the end and it was lacking.
Allison Malter
Once I get past the "cute" wisecracking commentary I actually enjoy Susan Isaacs' books. The story is well paced with a plot and characters that keep me reading. At the end I have forgotten my initial annoyance and am looking forward to reading another of her books.
Katie, a writer for a TV spy show based on her spy novel, was fired from the CIA years ago for no apparent reason. Lisa, who worked with her back then calls and insists she must talk to her about a matter of national importance, and will tell Katie why she was fired. Then, when Lisa doesn't call back, Katie starts investigating. Interesting story overall, a tad long.
Tim Owens
This book is boring and repetitive. Katie, the main character imagines all sorts of dire things happening to her and this got to be annoying because nothing was happening.. The plot wasn't suspenseful and did I say repetitive.
Jan 19, 2016 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say I was overly impressed with this book. The premise was good, but I didn't think the end delivered. I did not love the other book I read by this author (Any Place I Hang My Hat). Perhaps I should give up on her.
Dec 20, 2008 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a really big Susan Isaacs fan, but she hasn't knocked one out of the park for several years, and this isn't it either (her best book is Shining Through, but any of her first five or six books I think are terrific). I liked the main character, the New York setting, and her writing style, which is confident and relaxed and non-pretentious. But as usual, the mystery was kind of ridiculous and the idea that a successful adult woman would still be pining over a job she lost decades ago (that's no ...more
Ann Massey
Oct 04, 2011 Ann Massey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Female romance and mystery lovers
Disgraced ex- CIA writer Katie receives a call for help from Amy, a former colleague and dangles the hook that in return she'll reveal the reason why Katie was dismissed fifteen years ago, an injustice that still gives Katie sleepless nights. When Amy doesn't call back and no one has any idea of her whereabout Katie, a screen writer for 'Spy Guys' is soon caught up in a plot more devlish and dastardly than even her creative mind could conceive.

The novel is a page turner but for me Susan Isaac's
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Past Perfect 1 3 Jan 26, 2012 06:19PM  
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Susan Isaacs is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The Creative Coalition, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Ada ...more
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