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Anna Pitoniak, The Helsinki Affair, with Cristina Alger

Thursday, November 16, 2023 - 6:00 PM | Members' Room | open to the public | $15 per person | registration required

It's the case of Amanda's lifetime, but solving it will require her to betray another spy - who just so happens to be her father. In this special publication-week event, Anna Pitoniak discusses her globe-trotting new spy thriller The Helsinki Affair with bestselling novelist Cristina Alger.

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, a "twisty spy thriller that should please the most discriminating connoisseur of the genre" (Library Journal), introduces Pitoniak as a singular new talent in spy fiction. Perfect for fans of John le CarrĂ© and Daniel Silva, this is a classic story of conspiracy and cloak-and-dagger, of double agents and Cold War betrayals—but this time, with a refreshing female-centric twist. The Expats author Chris Pavone says, "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."

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. She graduated from Yale, where she majored in English and was an editor at the Yale Daily News. Author photo by Andrew Bartholomew

Cristina Alger is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels: The Darlings, The Banker's Wife, Girls Like Us, and This Was Not the Plan. Two of her novels have been optioned and adapted for television, and her work has been translated into ten languages. She is the recipient of the Housatonic Book Award for Fiction. A graduate of Harvard College and NYU Law School, Cristina spent over a decade working as a financial analyst and a corporate attorney before becoming a writer. cristinaalger.com. Author photo by Deborah Feingold