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Book Cover for: The Helsinki Affair, Anna Pitoniak

The Helsinki Affair

Anna Pitoniak

Reader Score


74% of readers

recommend this book

Critic Reviews


Based on 3 reviews on

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SPYING IS THE FAMILY BUSINESS. Amanda Cole is a brilliant young CIA officer following in the footsteps of her father, who was a spy during the Cold War. It takes grit to succeed in this male-dominated world--but one hot summer day, when a Russian defector walks into her post, Amanda is given the ultimate chance to prove herself.

The defector warns of the imminent assassination of a US senator. Though Amanda takes the warning seriously, her superiors don't. Twenty-four hours later, the senator is dead. And the assassination is just the beginning.

Corporate blackmail, covert manipulation, corrupt oligarchs: the Kremlin has found a dangerous new way to wage war. Teaming up with Kath Frost, a fearless older woman and legendary spy, Amanda races from Rome to London, from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, unraveling the international conspiracy. But as she gets closer and closer to the truth, a central question haunts her: Why was her father's name written down in the senator's notes? What does Charlie Cole really know about the Kremlin plot?

The Helsinki Affair is a riveting, globe-trotting spy thriller--but this time, with a refreshing female-centric twist. Perfect for fans of John le Carré and Daniel Silva, this book introduces Pitoniak as a singular new talent in the world of spy fiction.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: Nov 14th, 2023
  • Pages: 368
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.00in - 6.30in - 1.40in - 1.15lb
  • EAN: 9781668014745
  • Categories: Thrillers - EspionageWomenLiterary

About the Author

Pitoniak, Anna: - Anna Pitoniak is the author of Our American Friend, Necessary People, and The Futures. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked in book publishing, including as a senior editor at Random House. Anna grew up in Whistler, British Columbia. She graduated from Yale and lives in New York City.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book

One of the Washington Post's Best Thrillers of 2023

"A propulsive, captivating spy novel. The Helsinki Affair asks what would happen if your greatest adversary in intelligence was... your father."--Good Morning America

"Fills a gap in spy fiction.... Atmospheric, well-researched and packed with tradecraft, conspiracies, murder and, best of all, two fascinating women--Amanda Cole and Kath Frost--hard-nosed CIA agents who thrive on chaos and who are often smarter than their male counterparts.... Let's hope they make an appearance in a sequel."--Washington Post

"[An] ambitious espionage thriller ... [with a] startling finale ... Pitoniak continues to show strong instincts for the art of cloak-and-dagger."--Publishers Weekly

"In this delicious female spy novel, CIA up-and-comer Amanda and her mentor Kath untangle a global conspiracy involving Russian oligarchs and--gulp--Amanda's own father, an agency lifer himself."--People Magazine

"Gear up for a brilliantly plotted, complex spy thriller that not only will entertain, but will cause sincere reflection about what it means to be a person of integrity and how we can atone for our mistakes."--BookReporter

"Count on realistic and compelling storytelling here, with Pitoniak's own level of craft well-polished."--New York Journal of Books

"Outstanding.... A smart, well-paced, and refreshingly female-centric thriller."--Air Mail

"The Helsinki Affair has everything: high stakes, mortal peril, moral ambiguity, torn allegiances, tradecraft and subterfuge, love and sex and loneliness, and every type of risk. I can't remember the last time I read such an enjoyable spy novel."--CHRIS PAVONE, New York Times bestselling author of The Expats

"If you are one of those people--we are not a few--who think they don't write thrillers like they used to, then The Helsinki Affair is for you. An intricate, vigorously told and splendidly entertaining tale."--JOHN BANVILLE, author of Snow and Booker-Prize winning author of The Sea

"What makes a great spy novel? A plot that is intricate and clever but also believable and realistic. A story line that doubles back and plunges forward, that twists and turns in ways both alarming and satisfying. Heroes who are bold and cool but imperfect and all-too-human. The Helsinki Affair has it all. Move over Alan Furst and Daniel Silva and say hello to Anna PItoniak."--EVAN THOMAS, author of Road to Surrender

"Pitoniak artfully deploys all the tricks and tropes of the spy genre, and she creates for Amanda a wonderful ally--a 73-year-old CIA superstar named Kath Frost.... The developing mentorship and friendship between Amanda and Kath as well as the unfolding of the Cole family's unhappy past give the novel emotional weight and interest that add to its espionage plot. These excellent female spy characters deserve a series."--Kirkus

"Pitoniak does everything well in this twisty spy thriller that should please the most discriminating connoisseur of the genre."--Library Journal

"A must-read for fans of spy thrillers. CIA agent Amanda Cole must confront her father's past as she tries to thwart an international conspiracy. Will she be forced to choose between loyalty to her family and her allegiance to her country?"--Country Living

"A noteworthy espionage debut, with engrossing alternating story line."--East Hampton Star