Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht

Who Is Vera Kelly?

New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She's working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA. Next thing she knows she's in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed w...

Details Who Is Vera Kelly?

TitleWho Is Vera Kelly?
Release DateJun 12th, 2018
PublisherTin House Books
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Lgbt, Thriller, Glbt, Queer

Reviews Who Is Vera Kelly?

  • Navessa
    “Call the State Department. I’m CIA.” Ooooh, this was good. Part spy thriller, part character study, and part historical fiction.This book is told through a delicate interweaving of past and present. The past chapters chronicle the Vera’s youth, her troubled relationship with her mother, her brief stint in juvie, her sexual awakening, and the work that eventually leads to her recruitment by the CIA. The present chapters take place in Buen...
  • Jessica
    I received this book for free from the publisher (Tin House Books) in exchange for an honest review. I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4. This book is a slow burn. It’s not your typical spy novel. It’s on the slow side and there isn’t much action. I was expecting some twists and turns to the story, but that wasn’t what I got. It was a pretty straightforward plot. As a spy novel, it was a bit lackluster. I also felt that the sp...
  • Lauren
    Instead of the "edge of your seat" action spy thriller, this one is a more literary and character-driven spy story. The narrative moves swiftly between two time periods: 1950s Maryland/New Jersey, USA and 1960s Buenos Aires, Argentina. Vera's childhood and youth are troubled, and she spends time in juvenile detention centers and boarding schools. Later, in the 1960s timeline, we follow her covert intelligence work in Argentina - posing as a Canad...
  • Kathleen
    The swirling politics of Argentina in 1966 attracted the CIA, the KGB, and various Argentinian revolutionaries. In June 1966, a coup headed by General Juan Carlos Ongania was successful and resulted in him becoming the de facto president. He was opposed to both liberal democracy and to Communism.Knecht has used this chaotic period in Argentina’s history as the backdrop for Vera Kelly’s CIA spying activities. Vera’s cover story is that she i...
  • Lata
    Not a James Bondian spy story at all, thank goodness. Vera Kelly is in Argentina in 1966 to conduct surveillance. With her cover as a Canadian student, she encounters other students at night, and by day listens to recordings, passing on translated transcriptions and other bits of information to her CIA handler. Vera comes off as quiet and conscientious in her work, while the various students and others she meets appear to like her.Rosalie Knecht ...
  • Janelle • She Reads with Cats
    Thank you so much to Tin House for providing my free copy of WHO IS VERA KELLY? by Rosalie Knecht - all opinions are my own.I really enjoyed this book! And can we just take a moment to admire this cover?!! It’s PERFECT and really showcases the story inside! I really loved the character Vera. So much so, I would love to see this as a series. It’s not a typical spy novel but rather more of a short piece of literary fiction about a spy. The book...
  • Scott S.
    Who is Vera Kelly? is an interesting and original little historical espionage novel, with its chapters alternating between the main character's presence during the lead-up to the Argentine Revolution in mid-1966 AND her problematic teen years in conventional suburban Maryland of the late 50's.You see, Ms. Kelly is a CIA operative (though not in a James Bond or Jason Bourne sense) working solo in Buenos Aires with a dual purpose - observe / infilt...
  • Ace
    At first this was a confusing mash of back and forward of Vera's younger years and her current presence in Argentina, as Anna, and by about half way through I wasn't sure I was keeping up with the politics in government and within the student community. It was losing me, but then the June 1966 coup occured and it suddenly settled and the Vera and Anna threads started to weave together quite tightly and I was gripped until the end.3 stars
  • Rachel
    This is not your mother’s spy novel (no offense, moms). Rosalie Knecht is the knockout champion of suspenseful stories, and she really packs a page-turning punch with WHO IS VERA KELLY? Her literary footwork is impressive, deftly weaving political intrigue and heartfelt drama into a one-two knockout that will leave you dazzled. Who is Vera Kelly? She is a CIA spy whose latest assignment is to monitor the growing political unrest in Argentina an...
  • Erin Glover
    It’s a fun read. In fact, I read most of it in one sitting. But I closed the book and said out loud, “Nah, never happen.” All the elements are there. It should be a really good book. It just isn’t. It’s 1966. Vera is quirky and shy. Kind of the tech nerd type. She’s in Buenos Aires pretending to be Canadian and a college student while engaging in suspect activities for a suspect entity. She’s mysterious about her sexual preference. ...
  • Elizabeth Willis
    Rosalie Knecht’s Who Is Vera Kelly? is a spy novel for readers who avoid spy novels. It’s a page turner that stunningly evokes both 1960s Argentina, and the trauma of growing up queer in 1950s and 60s America. Vera Kelly is a CIA agent monitoring student activists (who are purportedly affiliated with the KGB) in a politically tumultuous Buenos Aires. Vera, operating incognito both professionally and romantically, spirals down the rabbit hole ...
  • Oriana
    This book is an absolute gem. I first heard about it from an odd source (for me) — Elle magazine, which enticed readers to "view the Cold War from another angle in this spy novel about a young American woman embedded in a group of Buenos Aires activists in the 1960s."Then I completely forgot about it for several months. Then on a random trip to the Strand it leapt out at me from the shelves, so. Anyway! It's indeed about an American twenty-so...
  • Aleksandra
    The book failed to reach its full potential despite an interesting concept. I’m going to point the most annoying thing about the book first. ”The American objective in cover ops was to preserve democracy.” I honestly laughed out loud when I read it. It’s in the very beginning of the story and the book was told from Vera’s pov, so if she believed it then, it’s in the text. But my main complain that the intrusive foreign policy of the U...
  • Katie
    Who is Vera Kelly? is a fast, easy read. Rosalie Knecht’s writing is clear and sharp and I raced through the book in less than a day. Using chapters that alternate between Vera’s past and present, Knecht weaves a coming of age story into a political thriller. There is a lot to love about this novel, but I also found myself feeling disconnected at times. For me, Who is Vera Kelly? is a solid three stars. If you like plot driven novels, especia...
  • Kate Olson
    Thanks to Tin House for this free review copy!*I can honestly say that I didn't know just how much I needed to read a spy novel about a female CIA agent in 1960s Buenos Aires.......and then I read this book and realized I was obviously aching for this in my life. I stayed up way, way, way past my bedtime inhaling Vera's adventures that alternate between the years leading up to her CIA career and her mission in Buenos Aires ~ both of these storyli...
  • Rosemarie Donzanti
    Really a 3.5 rating. This book is in parts historical fiction, a character study, and an espionage thriller. Vera Kelly is complex and she lives her life on the down low. The chapters alternate between her current life, 1966 Argentina, where she is a spy for the CIA in Buenos Aires and the late 1950's where she is a troubled teen hiding her true sexual orientation. Vera is deeply involved with the CIA, the KGB, and various Argentinian revolutiona...
  • Sarah Dealy
    I guess I would give this book 2.5 stars but I definitely would not recommend it. Honestly, I’m not sure why I finished it - the prose, though boring, is kind of soothing and melodic and that is probably part of the reason. The other part is because I was waiting for it to get good or get gay and it never did. This book has been marketed as the gayest, most exciting book ever and it is neither. As far as gay is concerned, the main person who Ve...
  • Matthew
    This novel was a slow burn for me, but by the end I was hooked. I love books that turn genre inside out, and Vera Kelly definitely does that. Funny and sharp.
  • Shelly
    Thanks to Tin House for sending me this book as part of the Galley Club (where you get a free book in exchange for an honest review and feedback). When I first heard of this book, I expected a spy novel, like a female James Bond book. It is that with Vera's time as a spy in Argentina. But I think the title tells you more of what the story really is. It's about the general person of Vera Kelly and what made her who she ends up being (the spy exper...
  • Andy Weston
    Centred around the Argentinian Revolution of June 1966 that led to Ongania’s junta taking power this is a cleverly written literary spy novel with a strong female character as lead. Told in the first person, with flashbacks to her school days, Knecht has created a fascinating heroine in Vera. The historical accuracy and setting is especially captivating for me having lived in South America for several years and frequently travelled to Buenos Ai...
  • Stacia
    I enjoyed this one. It's a spy book (of a sort) but it's not a thriller. The chapters alternate between Vera's teen years/coming of age (estranged from mom, discovering her sexuality, various jobs including being recruited by the CIA) to her current time (where she's on assignment to plant bugs & listen in on various people in Argentina since the US is expecting, & supporting, a coup there). I thought it was an interesting & unique take on a "tra...
  • Mindy
    This book really sneaks up on you. I loved how unique it felt and at one point there was no way I was putting this one down. I stayed up till 3am just so I could finish it. The tension just builds and builds. I think this one will stay with me for awhile. I'm a big fan of this author now and I will definitely look for more from her. Just so well done, I highly recommend this!
  • Booktart
    I so enjoyed reading this book! I guess if you’re looking for a typical spy thriller it may not satisfy but I loved the combination of historical fiction and some suspense. I’m also very interested in Latin America generally and Argentina specifically so the history was very interesting - I wish I had more background knowledge of Argentina.
  • Carol
    This engrossing novel of intrigue and identity. What Vera Kelly is not is your typical school girl, and she’s definitely not your typical spy.Vera has found a sense of accomplishment in her work with the CIA. The satisfaction of a job well done in service to her country is what helps make the rest of her lonely existence worth getting up for every morning. I say lonely because Vera is a closeted lesbian and in the 1960s it wasn’t impossible t...
  • Scarllet ✦ Underrated Lit Warrior
    Who is Vera Kelly? In its bare bones, this is a character exploration. Vera's past and present are at play and we get to learn how she got into this spy business at such a turbulent time in 1960s Argentina. I found the past chapters ended up being way shorter than I would've liked because I'm always fascinated when reading about how women were treated in the 1950s (especially women who like other women and how that aspect affects an already margi...
  • Olha
    It does not happen often when I like book more than I expected, but that’s exactly the case with ‘Who is Vera Kelly?’ by Rosalie Knecht. It is a spy novel, so I anticipated some easy-reading, adventures, pretentious phrases and deathless main character, who stays alive in the most ridiculous situations. How happy I am, that my expectations were wrong. ‘Who is Vera Kelly’ is a smart, realistic, slow-reading novel with childhood problems ...
  • Cat
    I have to begin this review with an ode to independent bookstores. I had never even heard of this book, and when I visited Booktowne in Manasquan, New Jersey, this paperback graced their Advanced Reader's Copy shelves, along with a neon pink Post-It that read "This one is GREAT!" And it really was. I love finding books through communities of others, not merely through the publicity houses of major publishing houses. (Okay, I realize that the publ...
  • Shelley Gibbs
    3.5*Slow burn Cold War era espionage thriller and coming of age story. Vera is a charming narrator and I would certainly read more of her adventures. I enjoyed Knecht’s prose. If you’re expecting lady James Bond excitement, you may be disappointed.
  • Barbara
    “Who is Vera Kelly?” is a CIA spy novel with Vera as a recruited CIA operative. It’s a quick read that alternates between Vera coming-of-age in 1957 to her life as a spy in 1966 Argentina. Through the quick chapters describing Vera’s late teens and early 20’s, the reader learns of Vera’s formative years. Those years allowed Vera-the-spy the gumption to survive.This is an interesting spy novel, certainly different than a James Bond rea...
  • Jamie
    Spy novel set in 1960s Argentina with a cunning female protagonist.