Book Review: Spy Girls by Joanna Vander Vlugt

It has been a while since I’ve read a thriller novel. I tend to read more in the way of procedurals or intellectual mysteries, but I was intrigued when I got the chance to read Spy Girls by Joanna Vander Vlugt. 

The book is a legal thriller following Jade Thyme, a defence lawyer in Victoria, Canada, who gets pulled into an explosive situation after her sister’s girlfriend goes missing, a crooked judge gets murdered, and Jade herself is thrown into the world of spies and double agents. Jade must find a missing former agent, all the while fending off malignant Russian spies and trying not to get censured by the Law Society.

This book is a lot more action-heavy than law-heavy, so if legal procedurals are not your cup of tea, then I wouldn’t worry. I don’t often read thrillers, since I tend to like slower-paced pieces, but this book is exactly what it promises. It is a thriller in every sense of the word, with kidnappings and sticky bombs, spies and secrets. It is a book that delivers exactly what it promises, and that is quite impressive indeed.

I was hoping for a little more in the way of character description, not so much as far as backstory is concerned—that was done quite well—but as something to take place between the long bouts of dialogue that show me what the character was doing or thinking or feeling. Even without that sort of narrative description, the book does quite well with character development, especially for Jade. She manages to go through quite a few dire situations and come out the same yet changed, a feat which many authors do not often manage well. I think that Katriona could have used a little more motivation other than self-interest, but she fills her role as villain quite well.

I will say that there were a few scenes that seemed to jump in time and place from moments before and didn’t seem to have the same characters. It didn’t happen often, but especially during the scenes with Coco and Jade trying to find Gillian, I was confused as to why they were there alone or what had happened to Adam and Jan, who seemed to be there only a paragraph before. Again, it was a rare occurrence, but it did throw me out of the story a bit.

Overall, I would say that Spy Girls is quintessentially a thriller and has exactly the elements that a good thriller should have. I, personally, prefer more character-driven than action-driven pieces, but this book was a fantastic example of an action-driven thriller. For people who love the chase and the game, this is most definitely a book for you. A very good book.