“Book Review: Boardroom M”
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
A fun, punchy thriller brimming with entertaining characters and potential
Until Misha Campbell was fired over a former lover’s heavily embellished tell-all memoir, she’d led a charmed life. A dream job, a brilliant wife who kindled her adventurous side, and the best friend a woman could hope for. After the loss of her job, she begins to realize that there might be a more sinister reason lurking in the shadows. A night out with her best friend ends with him manipulating her into distracting an undercover police officer, making her question if he is who he says he is.
But the real question, she realizes, is who is she? And will she manage to find an answer to that question before the enemy on her tail catches up to her? There are only so many options left for a person when they find out their life is a lie. Learning that the people she loves most are involved is a hard lesson for Misha to learn – or it might just be the best thing to ever happen to her.
Boardroom M is Gretchen Kirkpatrick’s debut novel and the first book in the Agents and Assets series. And it really is an excellent beginning. I’m on board for so many of the aspects of Boardroom M. Part thriller and part shadowy espionage novel, it really leans into the strengths of its genre. The threat is an unknown element that has resources and information that Misha can’t hope to match. Misha’s past is a trove of buried secrets that are somehow catching up to her present all at the same time. And, to combat one, she has to dig in to the other. It’s a fascinating premise that develops more possibilities as the story progresses.
Espionage novels still tend to be a mostly male-dominated genre, so it’s refreshing to find one both written by and centered around women. Misha and the other women in the story aren’t thinly veiled male archetypes either. They must rely on wit, speed, and networking to survive, not the macho posturing we’re used to seeing. This aspect introduces an interesting element to the mix. The female characters are perceptive of danger and quick to respond to it, and they deal with threats intelligently, which often means finding allies.
While I did enjoy myself quite a bit with Boardroom M, I admit I would have liked Misha to develop more agency than she did in the duration of this novel. She’s new to the spy game, and sure, it wouldn’t be believable for her to perfect it in her first few missions, but it doesn’t feel like she ever goes from reacting to acting. She has a strong team around her who she leans on heavily, and they never buckle under her weight. This safety net sucks some of the suspense from the novel, and I hope in future books Misha will be left more to her own devices.
Aside from this, the characters in Boardroom M are a delight. Snarky, witty and quirky by turns. There’s plenty of development left for them in the future, but spending time with them in this novel alone is still pure enjoyment. I particularly enjoyed spending time with Harper, a character who swans around an empty office in summer dresses with perfectly coiffed hair; she is like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise reasonably dark book.
Boardroom M is a great start to a promising new espionage series. It’s fun, fresh, and stars a cast of characters that you want to spend more time with. There are a lot of directions this series could go, and it will be interesting to see which path it takes—especially following the strengths of this debut.
Paperback: 222 pages
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