Past Perfect: A Novel
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Past Perfect: A Novel

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3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  778 ratings  ·  152 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
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Pocket Star (first published February 1st 2007)
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Melissa Proffitt
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
Lain
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...more
Suzanne
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
Eileen
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.
Ellenjsmellen
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.
Amy
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,...more
JBradford
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
David
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
Linda
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...more
Annika Peterson
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
Judi
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 bookcrossing.com). 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...more
Alice
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Sarah
I listened to this audiobook and was pleasantly entertained. This is your typical spy girl light adventure.[return][return]Katie used to have a desk job at the CIA and was fired for no reason. Fifteen years later, she still wonders why she lost her job. But now she successfully is a writer for the Spy Guys television series and gets wrapped up in a CIA mystery. Her old colleague at the CIA calls her and then disappears mysteriously. So Katie gets sucked into the web of finding her old CIA cowork...more
Jessica
Susan Isaacs may not be Jane Austen, but she's a terrifically entertaining writer who has mastered multiple genres and brings a sense of humor, tight writing, and clever plots and characters to plucky amateur detective fiction, family sagas, and other forms that aren't often given such classy treatment. In this book, a NYC mom/TV writer/ex-CIA analyst gets a mysterious call from a former colleague, which sends her on a mission to discover exactly why she was fired from the agency years before. I...more
Kelli
I've been doing a lot of listening driving from Oregon to Colorado. This is a "perky" detective novel and just right for a driving companion.
Melissa Ennis
Susan Isaacs gets better and better. Tight plot, even better wisecracks:

"But she was wrong about me looking for my youth. Nobody could pay me enough to get me back to high school. College hadn't been such a treasure either. Five percent of my time was given over to having sex, 40 to thinking about it. Another 45 went to being miserable about my weight/direction in life/inability to have fun. The final 10 percent was assigned reading."

Me -- except for the weight worrying.



Resume term to swipe: "...more
Erica
I was a little annoyed by the main character. For someone who was in the CIA, the author put her in some situations that I don't think an ex-CIA agent would be in considering her past. Although, if you look past that then it was a good story. It had all the good things....murder and mystery! The story is about an ex-CIA agent who gets let go for reasons unbeknown to her. She moves on and becomes a writer of a popular TV show and has a dream life, but she just can't get the idea that she was let...more
Jennifer Wagner
A fun book. The plot had me wanting to read to the end, but I found myself skimming much of the filler.
Heather Ormsby
Aug 21, 2007 Heather Ormsby rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of spy novels, chic lit
Shelves: mysteries
Katie Schottland was unjustly fired from the CIA 15 years ago. A call from a former acquaintance at the agency starts her on a search for the reason why she had lost her job and clues point to shady dealings back when East Germany fell.
A fun read - the main character is gutsy and is upfront about her failings. She's not one for self-analysis but she can see herself when others point out her flaws. The plot took a while to get going and the character's motivation in investigating her past is sha...more
Kristen
Although it took me a while to finish this book after a couple of nights I ran out of steam to read it, it's a good read. I classify it with woman's fiction with a slice of drama for a genre. Katie Schottland is a former spy and investigates why she was dismissed for no reason. We see how committed she is to her TV show, her family, and her determined to find out the truth. We go on the same journey as she does, which takes her across the country and back to tie up those loose ends. There's a hi...more
Nancy
This is my first Susan Isaacs book and it certainly didn't inspire me to pick up another. The cover quotes suggest it will be "brisk," "bright," "witty," etc. etc. I mushed along at a snail's pace, struggling to care enough to make it to the end (and I am a huge fan of brisk, bright and witty!).

I am a firm believer that mysteries can be smart and light-reading can be intelligent. This book missed the mark (for me) in every way. I rarely finish a book and think it was not worth the time spent rea...more
Adrien
I really didn't like this book. It served as purpose as mindless entertainment on a longish flight, but other than that, kind of pointless to read. I hated the main character the entire book, which I seriously doubt was the author's intention. There didn't seem to be a purpose to the entire plot - I was wondering the entire book "why doesn't she just get over the fact that she got fired years ago and she would have avoided this whole thing? The problem doesn't even involve her."

I wouldn't recom...more
Valerie
Comedic female heroine solves a mystery and has an adventure.
Karen
I was very disappointed in this book. I am a big Susan Isaacs fan and was looking forward to reading it. The plot seemed pretty flimsy and I did want to stop reading it before I was even half way done reading. The heroine used to work for the CIA about 20 years ago and was fired. She never knew why she was fired and this has been bothering her ever since. She has gone on to get married, have a family and a successful career as a screen writer for a spy show on tv. My advice to her: get over it!!...more
Trudy
This was not Susan Isaacs' best work. Nothing very exciting happens until page 303 of 337...and even then it wasn't too compelling. Katie, the ex-CIA drone turned author and television writer spends most of this book in her own head, worrying about imagined threats and consequences. When something does actually happen, it's hard to tell if it's real or just more of her rambling. Pointless side trips explore her sister's melancholy-poet psyche and her son Nicky's summer at fat camp.
Lynne
Fun to read without leaving a big impression. Isaacs is always witty and what I consider a better written Jennifer Weiner. Story of woman fired without explanation years ago from CIA who goes searching for the truth about the reason, meeting danger on the way. As she's the writer of a CIA-based tv show and the happy mother of a boy off at fat camp for the summer, all this is unnecessary except to her obsessed mind.
Rebecca Huston
A bitterly funny story about a former CIA agent who finds herself in the middle of murder, covert plans and watching her life unravel. While this one wasn't nearly as good as her previous novels, it was still worth reading. Just not great, however.

For more about this one, you can find the complete review here:
http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_P...
Dawn
The main character in this thriller irritated me so much (good characterization?)that I couldn't enjoy the book - I only finished it because I didn't have anything else to read! She is one of those people who constantly babble or describe her numerous flights of fancy/paranoid thoughts in great detail. Despite this, the plot wasn't bad, with high drama and an unexpected twist at the end.
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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
More about Susan Isaacs...
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