Until I read the publisher’s description, I really wasn’t sure about reading Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure because a brief glance at the title made me think it might be a porn novel or a back-in-the-day bodice ripper to me. LMAO It’s not either of those things. Beth McMullen’s novel is a light mommy/spy adventure comedy with a real fun snarky edge to it. And it’s being published today!
Sally Sin was Washington, DC, covert ops field Agent 26 for the U.S. Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction (the Agency). Agent 26 was recruited fresh out of college for the job. Lucy Parks Hamilton is the 36 year-old, San Francisco, CA, wife of William Wilton Hamilton III (Will) and stay-at-home mom of a rambunctious three-year-old boy, Theo. Sally and Lucy are the same person. Neither of those names are our heroine’s real name of course.
“The covert agents of USAWMD are out there every day trying to stop bad things from happening by whatever means possible. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Most people remember the times when it doesn’t. There weren’t twenty six agents. I have no idea how many there were but I think it was less than twenty six. However, my boss, Simon Still seemed to think I looked like [an] Agent 26.”
Our heroine got the name Sally Sin because it’s the bogus name she put on a lame survey she did in college that was part of a research project, she thought. In reality it was a recruitment test to see how well she would do in covert ops. Turns out she aced the test so the Agency thought she’d do really well. Like a lot of jobs, she was thrown right into hers and when she complained about not receiving any training, her boss Simon would just give her that exasperated look – any employee who’s spoken up to their boss knows that look, right? And then there’s the man Sally was supposed to track down, spy on and eliminate, Ian Blackford. He keeps kidnapping her and then letting her go. And then there’s the Blind Monk, who no woman in her right mind would try to take on physically. ‘Nuf said.
“In all the chatter I had heard about Blackford at the office, it was never once mentioned that the man made James Bond look like a slob. Ian Blackford filled the bathroom door, his arms crossed over his broad chest…’Do you dye your hair?’ I asked suddenly.”
“’I brought you here to kill you,’ [Blackford]he said matter of factly. ‘It seemed like the only logical response. An eye for an eye. But you really have no idea who you are, do you? Not even a suspicion.’ He studied the knife, thinking, ‘Unexpected. But it makes me think I might let you live. For now.’”
Of course, our heroine’s Sally Sin days are behind her. She quit the Agency much to Simon’s dismay, changed her name to Lucy Parks, married Will much to his parents’ dismay, and gave birth to Theo, who she adores and protects like a mother lioness. Like every mom of a toddler everywhere, she’s too sleep deprived to function, is too busy cleaning various messes off of herself, the floor and the walls to worry about decorating, is trying to juggle rapid toddler mood swings with keeping her marital bliss alive, and thinks she’s a hopeless failure at all of it.
“Ten years ago, I would have met the idea that I would be going on playdates and walking around with streaks of snot on my shoulder with absolute indignation. Nowadays it’s possible for me to wear the same pair of jeans for seven days in a row and not get too worked up about it.”
The last thing Lucy needs is for Simon to come strutting back into her life and resurrecting Sally. Evidently once you’ve worked for the Agency, you always work for the Agency. Imagine one of your nastiest bosses coming back and forcing you to work for him/her again, and you’ll have some idea of what Lucy feels – only with guns, and people trying to kill you and your family, and stuff. She frantically tries to keep her two lives separate because of course her husband has no clue about her Sally days. And Keystone Cops style mayhem ensues.
If you’re a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, you’ll really like Beth McMullen’s Sally/Lucy because they have a lot in common. Everywoman meets seemingly unsurvivable obstacles and bumbles through in ways that are guaranteed to crack you up. I laughed out loud and groaned and bit my nails several times even though I knew Sally would get out of her scrapes – I mean who kills off the heroine? I was worried about Ian though; Blind Monk, not so much – Ian, yes. This is not some deep, introspective novel and it is a perfect summer read. I’ve read that it’s going to be a series and I’m looking forward to Lucy/Sally’s future adventures!
If you’ve read any of Beth McMullen’s novels, including Original Sin, we’d love to get your comments on them or on her as a novelist. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
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