Safe Houses
In this gripping new work of suspense from the author of The Double Game, a young woman discovers a nefarious truth at the heart of the CIA's operations in postwar Berlin and goes on the run for her life; years later she's gruesomely murdered along with her husband, and her daughter begins to chase down these startling secrets from her past.West Berlin, 1979. Helen Abell oversees the CIA's network of safe houses, rare havens for field agents and case officers amidst the dangerous milieu of a city in the grips of the Cold War. Helen's world is upended when, during her routine inspection of an agency property, she overhears a meeting between two people unfamiliar to her speaking a coded language that hints at shadowy realities far beyond her comprehension. Before the day is out, she witnesses a second unauthorized encounter, one that will place her in the sightlines of the most ruthless and powerful man at the agency. Her attempts to expose the dark truths about what she has witnessed will bring about repercussions that reach across decades and continents into the present day, when, in a farm town in Maryland, a young man is arrested for the double murder of his parents, and his sister takes it upon herself to find out why he did it.

Safe Houses Details

TitleSafe Houses
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 3rd, 2018
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139780525520191
Rating
GenreThriller, Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Thriller

Safe Houses Review

  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this book given I don't typically read very many CIA based thrillers. Now I can't say how realistic it was but it definitely held my interest from start to finish. The action goes back and forth between 1970s Berlin with Helen Abell who oversees the safe houses for CIA agents and 2014 when she along with her husband are murdered on their farm in Maryland and their daughter is desperate for answers. What I found fascinating was given the time p 3.5 starsI was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this book given I don't typically read very many CIA based thrillers. Now I can't say how realistic it was but it definitely held my interest from start to finish. The action goes back and forth between 1970s Berlin with Helen Abell who oversees the safe houses for CIA agents and 2014 when she along with her husband are murdered on their farm in Maryland and their daughter is desperate for answers. What I found fascinating was given the time period of the 1970s and the "good ol' boy" type culture of the CIA, the book was able to explore a bit the unique challenges a female would have faced back then. Helen was an appealing character because she was just this ordinary woman but with this crazy, secretive job. The only real criticism I have of the book was there were a few instances in which I got that "why did the character do that?" type feeling. It's my pet peeve in thrillers when I think even I'm not that stupid to do what the character did. Overall though it was a good thriller and I definitely recommend.I won a free copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    Safe Houses is an enjoyable dual timeline story that delves into the CIA’s operations in Berlin during the later years of the Cold War. In 1979, Helen Abell oversees the safe houses that the CIA maintains in Berlin. One night she accidentally overhears a strange conversation in one of the houses and then subsequently stumbles into another dangerous encounter. Abell decides to expose those responsible which leads to a decades long vendetta that has severe consequences in 2014 when a son is arrest Safe Houses is an enjoyable dual timeline story that delves into the CIA’s operations in Berlin during the later years of the Cold War. In 1979, Helen Abell oversees the safe houses that the CIA maintains in Berlin. One night she accidentally overhears a strange conversation in one of the houses and then subsequently stumbles into another dangerous encounter. Abell decides to expose those responsible which leads to a decades long vendetta that has severe consequences in 2014 when a son is arrested for the double murder of his parents. As the story progresses, the two tales slowly intersect and weave into a powerful conclusion.My favorite part of the story was the description of Berlin in 1979. The wall is still in place, but much of the United States’ focus has shifted to the Middle East and the tensions in Iran. Fesperman effectively conveys the tension still present in bifurcated Berlin, but also the sense that the worst has passed there.Safe Houses was an engaging and entertaining read.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    As much as I love thrillers the sub genre of espionage thrillers is not one that I read very often, but the premise of Safe Houses captured my attention immediately. I’m a sucker for old mysteries colliding with current happenings and the two timelines here ended up coming together in a powerful and intense way.This begins in 1979 in Berlin and follows Helen, a woman who organizes safe houses. What I found most interesting about this portion was the portrayal of powerful men during this era and As much as I love thrillers the sub genre of espionage thrillers is not one that I read very often, but the premise of Safe Houses captured my attention immediately. I’m a sucker for old mysteries colliding with current happenings and the two timelines here ended up coming together in a powerful and intense way.This begins in 1979 in Berlin and follows Helen, a woman who organizes safe houses. What I found most interesting about this portion was the portrayal of powerful men during this era and the manner in which they can choose to abuse said power, it read as very accurate and authentic and was an interesting piece of history that engaged me. Helen was a strong woman in her own right, the kind of character that I respected and admired, and a bit daring for her time. The 2014 timeline begins after Helen and her husband are murdered as her daughter strives to find answers never realizing how long ago decisions impacted Helen’s life thirty five years later.I won’t dive any further into the details of the story as there were several great turns, but I was very impressed by the execution of the plot twists as well as the writing of Fesperman, it was of a high caliber and very polished. Recommended for those who want a different type of thriller and love a strong female lead, lots of action and intensity and a plot that held my attention throughout.Safe Houses in three words: Gripping, Tense and Smart.
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  • Joanna Park
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fantastic spy thriller that I really enjoyed.  The story is told in two parts one based in cold war Berlin and one in 2014.  The Cold War has always held a lot of intrigue for me, not least because my dad was posted to Germany when the wall was still present.  The tension is created naturally in this timeline as the there is a general feeling of mistrust and fear amoung the residents.My favourite character was Helen who is the only women in an all male team.  She’s struggling to do he This was a fantastic spy thriller that I really enjoyed.  The story is told in two parts one based in cold war Berlin and one in 2014.  The Cold War has always held a lot of intrigue for me, not least because my dad was posted to Germany when the wall was still present.  The tension is created naturally in this timeline as the there is a general feeling of mistrust and fear amoung the residents.My favourite character was Helen who is the only women in an all male team.  She’s struggling to do her job properly or get noticed.  Her boss I very sexist and doesn’t believe woman are capable of doing agent work, an opinion that is echoed by a lot of her colleagues.  I really admired her determination to try to make a difference and make the best of the situation.  I did also feel sorry for her as the lack of confidence her colleagues had in her must have been hard to handle.This was quite a fast paced book for me and I really enjoyed watching the story unravel. I was pleased that Helen decided to try and solve the case and really wanted her to succeed.  I kept reading, turning the pages faster and faster as the mystery was solved.This is the first book by this author I have read and I really look forward to reading more from him in the future.  If you like fast paced crime thrillers that have a bit of a classic feel to them you’ll like this book.Huge thanks to Abby and Knoff publishers for my copy of this book via Netgalley and for inviting me onto the blog tour.
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  • Janelle
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you so much Knopf for providing my free copy of SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman - all opinions are my own.This espionage thriller is told in dual timelines, alternating between 1979 and 2014. It starts off in postwar Berlin, where Helen Abell oversees safe houses for the CIA Network. One night she enters one of the houses and inadvertently stumbles across something horrible and has the tapes to prove it. Fast forward thirty five years to 2014 where there is an arrest for a double murder. Hele Thank you so much Knopf for providing my free copy of SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman - all opinions are my own.This espionage thriller is told in dual timelines, alternating between 1979 and 2014. It starts off in postwar Berlin, where Helen Abell oversees safe houses for the CIA Network. One night she enters one of the houses and inadvertently stumbles across something horrible and has the tapes to prove it. Fast forward thirty five years to 2014 where there is an arrest for a double murder. Helen and her husband are tragically killed at their farm in Maryland and their daughter is looking for answers. These two compelling storylines eventually intersect and lead to one incredible ending.Fesperman’s writing is top-notch and I am impressed with how well he seamlessly switched back and forth between the two timelines. The plot is original and I love Helen as a character. The male dominated time period seemed spot on for a woman working for the CIA in the 1970s and I especially enjoyed those chapters within the historical backdrop of Berlin. Switching perspectives between Helen in the seventies, and her daughter Anna looking for answers to her mother’s murder in 2014, made this a true page-turner. Another aspect I loved are the clever female characters and how they persevere through a male dominated field. I haven’t read many spy thrillers, but Fesperman’s style has convinced me to read more. I’m afraid they have a lot to live up to.
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Safe Houses is a terrific espionage thriller that is part espionage story from a divided Cold War Berlin in 1979 where everyone is on edge, isolated, nervous, ready for action, and a more modern-day murder mystery. Fesperman does an excellent job of tying together these two threads and the shadowy characters and lethal black ops agents at work. The focus is on what powerful people can get away with, particularly with vulnerable female agents who have nowhere to turn to. And what gets swept under Safe Houses is a terrific espionage thriller that is part espionage story from a divided Cold War Berlin in 1979 where everyone is on edge, isolated, nervous, ready for action, and a more modern-day murder mystery. Fesperman does an excellent job of tying together these two threads and the shadowy characters and lethal black ops agents at work. The focus is on what powerful people can get away with, particularly with vulnerable female agents who have nowhere to turn to. And what gets swept under the carpet only to re-emerge decades Later. Not really a bang-bang shoot-em-up secret agent story for the most part, but nevertheless very very compelling. The focus on strong female leads and women's workplace issues may prove particularly appealing to women. Many thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.
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  • Linda Zagon
    January 1, 1970
    “Safe Houses” by Dan Fesperman is a captivating, intense and intriguing novel. The Genres for this novel are Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Fiction. The timelines for the story starts is West Berlin in 1974, and through different narration, continues to the present. The story takes place in many countries.The author describes the characters as complicated and conflicted. Some are courageous, and some are calculating. There is a trace of a theme of good and evil. There is corruption, betrayals, “Safe Houses” by Dan Fesperman is a captivating, intense and intriguing novel. The Genres for this novel are Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Fiction. The timelines for the story starts is West Berlin in 1974, and through different narration, continues to the present. The story takes place in many countries.The author describes the characters as complicated and conflicted. Some are courageous, and some are calculating. There is a trace of a theme of good and evil. There is corruption, betrayals, twists and turns and adventure.Helen Abell’s job in 1979 in West Berlin, is to oversee the CIA Safe Houses that field agents go to. One evening, when Helen is in one of the safe houses, two unexpected people arrive and have a conversation in code. Helen is hiding, but is secretly taping this. Another night Helen is witness to something else she shouldn’t see, or hear. Helen also has a tape of this, and now finds that she is in danger, and learns to escape and seek the information she needs and wants that has put her in this position.Little does Helen know that those tapes she has with her will be extremely significant for years to come.Thirty years later, Helen and her husband are murdered by their disabled son. Her daughter comes back to finalize arrangements, and wants to seek the truth. There are deep secrets and Helen’s past causes great danger to her daughter.I recommend this novel to those readers that enjoy a face-paced novel packed full of suspense. Happy Reading !!!
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to follow on tour date - 7/2
  • Gare Billings
    January 1, 1970
    SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman is a thrilling espionage mystery novel that alternates between 1979 Berline and present time Maryland. Going into this one, I knew I was in for something menacing and unlike anything I've ever read. I was 100% correct. As this was my first novel that kind of dipped its toes in the whole spy/espionage genre, I was intrigued and heavily surprised with how Fesperman was able to not only transport me into such unfamiliar territory, but also guide me so efficiently along SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman is a thrilling espionage mystery novel that alternates between 1979 Berline and present time Maryland. Going into this one, I knew I was in for something menacing and unlike anything I've ever read. I was 100% correct. As this was my first novel that kind of dipped its toes in the whole spy/espionage genre, I was intrigued and heavily surprised with how Fesperman was able to not only transport me into such unfamiliar territory, but also guide me so efficiently along this journey I was totally unprepared for. I have to say, going into this one I was a little weary on the whole espionage plot line as I have never read anything like this before. Fesperman guides his reader with ease and did a fantastic job of adding in details and characters that your fan of this genre will completely understand, but doesn't go too heavily into this genre for fans that are new to this experience. I also loved how the present day timeline was more of a mystery and kind of broke up the espionage plot that could get a little heavy at times. His writing is fluid, detailed, and tightly constructed. I really admired the way that Fesperman not only built these two fantastic plots, but the way that he blended them together was seamless and gorgeous in its prose.While I'm unsure if this genre is something I will get into further down the line, it was a great break from the average thriller and mysteries that I am used to reading. The espionage plot was easier to get than I expected, the family dynamic and blend of the stories together was nothing short of spectacular writing, and the female characters were two women that I will consider to not only be badass, but exceptionally written. I really enjoyed this novel and the reading experience it provided me and would highly recommend this novel for someone looking to step out of their comfort zone or for the readers that enjoy this genre alike. Special thanks to Alfred Knopf for providing me with this copy in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Helen Abell heard something she wasn’t supposed to hear at the beginning of Dan Fesperman’s Safe Houses. In fact, she hears two things she wasn’t supposed to hear. Also, she was taping the people speaking in one of the Berlin safe houses she monitors for the CIA. Even worse: some of the people who were saying things they shouldn’t know she has incriminating tapes. This is the set up for a thrilling mystery that spans almost four decades and two continents...Read the rest of my review at A Bookis Helen Abell heard something she wasn’t supposed to hear at the beginning of Dan Fesperman’s Safe Houses. In fact, she hears two things she wasn’t supposed to hear. Also, she was taping the people speaking in one of the Berlin safe houses she monitors for the CIA. Even worse: some of the people who were saying things they shouldn’t know she has incriminating tapes. This is the set up for a thrilling mystery that spans almost four decades and two continents...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.
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  • Argum
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book from Penguin First To Read. Told in two parts, 1979 Berlin sees a woman working a mostly clerical CIA job struggling to break out of the box that her sex and her superiors attitude has placed her in. When she accidentally discovers two big secrets and has tapes to prove it, an adventure for her life begins. In the other part, we see the modern day aftermath of her death as her daughter works to figure out what happened and who her mother really was. A spy thri I received a free copy of this book from Penguin First To Read. Told in two parts, 1979 Berlin sees a woman working a mostly clerical CIA job struggling to break out of the box that her sex and her superiors attitude has placed her in. When she accidentally discovers two big secrets and has tapes to prove it, an adventure for her life begins. In the other part, we see the modern day aftermath of her death as her daughter works to figure out what happened and who her mother really was. A spy thriller where no one is exactly what they seem but also a story of women. Really engaging and full of good twists.
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  • Tracy (The Pages In-Between)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Abby and Knopf Books for inviting me on to this blog tour and providing me with a free book. All opinions are my own. I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.I normally do not read a lot of spy/espionage thrillers, it's never been a type of book that caught my attention. But when Abby Endler brings a book to your attention, and invites you on to a Blog Tour, I don't care who you are, you do it. And because of that, I feel like I got to read and enjoy a book I normally never would pick Thank you to Abby and Knopf Books for inviting me on to this blog tour and providing me with a free book. All opinions are my own. I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.I normally do not read a lot of spy/espionage thrillers, it's never been a type of book that caught my attention. But when Abby Endler brings a book to your attention, and invites you on to a Blog Tour, I don't care who you are, you do it. And because of that, I feel like I got to read and enjoy a book I normally never would pick for myself. I really enjoyed the alternating, time jumping chapters. I think Esperman depicted the good ole boy aspect of the CIA perfectly, and when I think of how it must have been back in the 70's I'm betting it's dead on. Helen was a great character, she knew right from wrong, and she wasn't afraid to fight for it, even if it ended her life. Not a lot of books can tackle alternating, time jumping chapters, without causing some slight confusion, but I feel Esperman executed it well, and I appreciate that he added in Anna, Willard, and Henry. This side of the story gave an added depth to the book. Which was very appreciated. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I am glad I joined in on this Blog Tour. 
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    When I imagine "spy" thrillers, I think of books like this one. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The dual storylines were great. They intertwined nicely to lead into one another without overpowering one another. Although, I have to admit that for a while in the beginning, it was the past with Helen that had captured more of my love and attention. Helen was one tough but good agent. It is because of her honesty and stubbornness that lead to her death. In the present there is Anna and her brother, When I imagine "spy" thrillers, I think of books like this one. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The dual storylines were great. They intertwined nicely to lead into one another without overpowering one another. Although, I have to admit that for a while in the beginning, it was the past with Helen that had captured more of my love and attention. Helen was one tough but good agent. It is because of her honesty and stubbornness that lead to her death. In the present there is Anna and her brother, Willard. Willard has been accused of murdering their parents. Anna wants the truth. She hire Henry. Together they go down a path that is full of twists. There was a bit of a spark between Henry and Anna but nothing that became a main focal point of the story. As the story progressed the two storylines got more involved with one another. This is such an easy book to read as the story lines and characters are written nicely. This is my first time reading a book from Mr. Fesperman and it won't be my last. You will be "hiding" but that is only because you will want to hide from the rest of the world to read this book.
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  • Kelsie
    January 1, 1970
    I hate reviews with spoilers so you won't read any here. All you'll get is my humble opinion about the quality of this novel. This is was my first Dan Fesperman novel, but I declare it a must-read. I love a story where the author has done his/her research. Mr. Fesperman did his research and delivered a beautifully developed storyline and engaging characters. The plot twists were well thought out. The author managed to make a novel with dual storylines, past and present, easy to navigate for the I hate reviews with spoilers so you won't read any here. All you'll get is my humble opinion about the quality of this novel. This is was my first Dan Fesperman novel, but I declare it a must-read. I love a story where the author has done his/her research. Mr. Fesperman did his research and delivered a beautifully developed storyline and engaging characters. The plot twists were well thought out. The author managed to make a novel with dual storylines, past and present, easy to navigate for the reader. Helen and her daughter Anna were both outstanding leading ladies. I was chosen to read an advance copy of this book as part of Penguin's First to Read program. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.
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  • Angela Gibson
    January 1, 1970
    This book had me reading until late (early?) into the morning hours when I should have been sleeping. I was hooked.I finished the book the next day and thought that I was reading a different book. The author writes two story lines, one in 1978 Berlin and one in modern day American small town. The main character, Helen Abell, crosses into both timelines, one as a young CIA spy in Berlin and as a murdered character in modern day. The spy story was phenomenal in capturing the politics and sociology This book had me reading until late (early?) into the morning hours when I should have been sleeping. I was hooked.I finished the book the next day and thought that I was reading a different book. The author writes two story lines, one in 1978 Berlin and one in modern day American small town. The main character, Helen Abell, crosses into both timelines, one as a young CIA spy in Berlin and as a murdered character in modern day. The spy story was phenomenal in capturing the politics and sociology of the late 1970s. The modern story fell short for me, particularly in the last 1/4 of the book. I don't know who wrote the dialogue in that last 1/4 for the private investigator/government agent and Helen's daughter, but it didn't feel as though the same author had written about them for the first 3/4.The spy actions in Europe were intense and interesting; the modern day murder and spying just seemed preposterous.Even with my disappointment with the end of the book, I would read it still because the first part of the book and the Europe spy setting was just that good. I've not read any of Dan Fesperman's books before, but I'll be giving his prior books a chance. Thank you to First to Read for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    A very enjoyable read, jumping between 1979 Berlin/Paris and modern-day US east coast. I often got caught up in the action, enjoying myself, and then in a lull, would wonder: wait, there's not all that much to this, is there? I don't know -- the vast conspiracies seemed, well, not so vast, or terribly important in the grand scheme of things. But I did enjoy it, and it was well put-together. A few strong female characters to lead the story, although they felt a little more distant than the main c A very enjoyable read, jumping between 1979 Berlin/Paris and modern-day US east coast. I often got caught up in the action, enjoying myself, and then in a lull, would wonder: wait, there's not all that much to this, is there? I don't know -- the vast conspiracies seemed, well, not so vast, or terribly important in the grand scheme of things. But I did enjoy it, and it was well put-together. A few strong female characters to lead the story, although they felt a little more distant than the main character of the modern-day story, Henry. Still, a fun run and well written.I got a copy to review from First to Read.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    This is an excellent thriller that is really two intertwined cloak and dagger stories that take place thirty five years apart. Both are interesting and both are driven by intuitive, forceful female leads. Lots of twists and turns that made it a pleasure to read this well-written story that I really enjoyed.I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway for this honest review.
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  • Anita Boeira
    January 1, 1970
    I’m a sucker for spy stories, especially women spies. There are two main storylines in this book, and Helen’s was by far the most intriguing for me. Couldn’t put it down.
  • Karen Cole
    January 1, 1970
    Safe Houses is a fairly long read and could almost be described as two stories in one. The first follows Helen Abell, a CIA field agent working in Berlin in 1979 during the Cold War. There are still plenty of men in the CIA of the '70s who believe women are a liability to the Agency and Helen's boss is no exception. When she arrived in Berlin she was handed a position which was once a clerical role but despite the obvious snub, Helen is determined to do the best job possible and soon the provisi Safe Houses is a fairly long read and could almost be described as two stories in one. The first follows Helen Abell, a CIA field agent working in Berlin in 1979 during the Cold War. There are still plenty of men in the CIA of the '70s who believe women are a liability to the Agency and Helen's boss is no exception. When she arrived in Berlin she was handed a position which was once a clerical role but despite the obvious snub, Helen is determined to do the best job possible and soon the provision of safe houses in the city becomes more efficient, secure and cleaner. It is this drive to provide the highest quality places for agency operatives which means Helen is upstairs in one such house when she inadvertently becomes privy to a secret conversation. Later that evening she witnesses the supposedly safe house being used again and realises she needs to act on the information she has learned. The second part of the story covers Anna's investigation into the shocking murder of her parents in 2014. Her brother may have been the perpetrator of this seemingly senseless act of violence but Anna is convinced there is more to the story and hires an investigator, Henry to help her uncover the truth. As they delve deeper into the past, they learn some shocking secrets about Anna's family history which results in them facing their own moments of peril.The narrative switches between 1979 and 2014 with the first plot line being a complex and gripping spy thriller, and the second a riveting murder mystery. The two stories are obviously connected, with the events of the past having long term repercussions even though the Cold War is long over. The espionage scenes in the chapters set in 1979 evoke all the suspense of an era where the cities of Europe housed undercover agents known only by their cryptonyms, where information was passed through a complicated series of channels and those involved spent their days checking over their shoulders, wondering who they could really trust. The modern day mystery is also an entertaining read, with little titbits gradually revealed and some surprising twists before Anna and Henry finally discover the truth. Both the young women in the novel are richly imagined characters; their dogged determination to see justice prevail and to uncover the truth may lead them both into terrible danger but nevertheless they persist. The various settings of the book are rendered superbly too, giving a truly immersive feeling of time and depth to the proceedings.Safe Houses has a complex plot which includes real life figures and events from history. It demands full concentration from its readers but rewards them with a pacy and engrossing story. For me, the real strength of the novel lies in the wonderfully vivid scenes in Cold War Europe but the intriguing links between the acts of the past and present also add to the terrific sense of tension in what is an exciting and intelligent thriller. Recommended.
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  • Carrie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to the first to read program for a digital arc of this book to read and review.This book falls between a 3.5 and 4 for me but I liked the ending so I went with the higher star rating.It took me a little while to get into this book and I think that was primarily because I didn't have an understanding as to what exactly was going on and who the characters were. Once I got further into the book, I found myself enjoying it and was curious as to how it would end. I liked that the book was told Thanks to the first to read program for a digital arc of this book to read and review.This book falls between a 3.5 and 4 for me but I liked the ending so I went with the higher star rating.It took me a little while to get into this book and I think that was primarily because I didn't have an understanding as to what exactly was going on and who the characters were. Once I got further into the book, I found myself enjoying it and was curious as to how it would end. I liked that the book was told in two separate stories. The first thread was told from Helen's perspective in 1979 while she was a CIA agent in Berlin. After accidentally taping a mysterious conversation at one of her safe houses, Helen has no idea that what she has on record could put her life in danger. Then, to make matters worse, she discovers a male agent raping a female agent. When she decides to seek justice, she sets a ball in motion that has repercussions far beyond what she could have ever imagined. The second story is told in 2014 in Maryland by Helen's daughter, Anna. She has come home to settle her parents affairs after they were brutally murdered by her brother. Anna knows that this behavior seems unlikely of her brother, so she decides to hire an investigator to discover what may have happened. When she finds a letter discussing payment her mother is due from the CIA, Anna knows she can't rest until she learns about her mother's past. With the help of the investigator, Anna begins a quest that may unknowingly put her life in danger. I really liked Helen's story the best. It was interesting to consider how difficult it must have been for a woman in her position in the 1970's. I thought her character was well written and she plays a great, strong female lead. While I enjoyed the story told by Anna, I felt as if it were a little more contrived. There were a few too many coincidences and things they stumbled upon too easily in my opinion. (I also did not enjoy the bit that occurred with Scooter at all!). Without a doubt, my favorite character was Baucom. He is Helen's significantly older lover and mysterious coworker. He was intriguing and I wish his character would have played a larger role or could have been more detailed. He seemed essential to the story but remained in the background a little too much for me. In addition, I appreciated the additional section the author added at the end of the book in relation to the historical background of the book and information concerning The Pond. It peaked my interest and I would be interested in learning more about it!Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.Berlin 1979: a city full of spies and counterspies. Espionage was dangerous and involved many ordinary people. Helen was one of them. Even though her job was not one of the highest risk, she knew secrets that could come back to haunt her at any time. Today she would be called a feminist, but in 1979 she was removed from her DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.Berlin 1979: a city full of spies and counterspies. Espionage was dangerous and involved many ordinary people. Helen was one of them. Even though her job was not one of the highest risk, she knew secrets that could come back to haunt her at any time. Today she would be called a feminist, but in 1979 she was removed from her assignment and dismissed from the agency. She thought being sent back to the states was the worst thing that could happen to her, but she was wrong.August 2014: fast forward to a tiny town in rural Maryland. Willard Shoat shoots and kills his parents as they slept causing uproar in the close knit community. Willard is slow by any man’s definition, but he has never been violent or mean. Sadly, he doesn’t even realize his mother and father are dead or why he is sitting in a jail cell. Anna, his sister, arrives in town to bury her parents and tend to her brother, but is perplexed as to how someone that just wants her to bring his Star War toy to prison could kill their parents in cold blood. She fears he will be lost in the prison system and calls upon a stranger in town to help her find answers.Anna enlists the new guy in town, Henry Mattick, to help her find out the truth. It is rumored he is a PI, which may or may not be exactly true. That being said, he is already on an undercover job and doesn’t really want to become involved with a local fiasco. But something about Anna makes him more than curious about her family. They become an unlikely duo fighting for a small guy in a huge mess. Secrets from the past are revealed, shedding light upon some very dangerous characters that operate outside of the law with the protection of the government. Mr. and Mrs. Shoat may not be the only casualties by the time this fast-paced novel ends.Safe Houses is a heart pounding, breath holding thriller wrapped in intrigue and intelligence. Fesperman’s masterfully blends two stories together to make a powerful book that kept me turning pages late into the night. This is the first book by Dan Fesperman I have read, I don’t know how he was not on my radar because Safe House is his eleventh novel. I am putting the other ten on my Christmas list.Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman
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  • Jean Kolinofsky
    January 1, 1970
    This is not the first book that I have read by Dan Fesperman and I have never been disappointed. In this book he intertwines two stories, that of Helen Abell in 1979 Berlin and her daughter in 2014 Maryland. Helen’s story involves her accidentaly recording a conversation between two agents in one of the safe houses that she cares for. When she returns to erase the tape she is witness to a sexual assault by an agent on one of his informants. The events of that day will set her on the run and have This is not the first book that I have read by Dan Fesperman and I have never been disappointed. In this book he intertwines two stories, that of Helen Abell in 1979 Berlin and her daughter in 2014 Maryland. Helen’s story involves her accidentaly recording a conversation between two agents in one of the safe houses that she cares for. When she returns to erase the tape she is witness to a sexual assault by an agent on one of his informants. The events of that day will set her on the run and have her form the Sisterhood with two other agents who are aware of similar attacks. It will also be the cause of her death thirty-five years later.Helen’s daughter Anna enlists the help of her mother’s neighbor after her parents are murdered by her brother. Willard had always been slow but had never been violent and Anna is trying to understand why he would kill. As they search through Helen’s office and papers, Anna discovers a side of her mother that she never knew. Chasing down answers leads them to the Sisterhood and puts them in danger as well.Both of Fesperman’s female characters are strong and the two eras are nicely woven together. There are a few unexpected twists in the story and suspense builds steadily to the end. I would like to thank Penguin Books and First-to-Read for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Jessi Brewer
    January 1, 1970
    Looking for a gripping and brilliant espionage novel? Look no further, this is 100% it! Dan Fespermans' Safehouses' is intensely intriguing and geniusly flips not only between narrators, but also, time periods, and places. The use of the narration in this manner makes 'Safe Houses' a super fast, very clever, meaty, and immensely thrilling read.The realistic prose as well as the high tension atmosphere, makes you feel as though you are there, within the pages, with the characters! From the very s Looking for a gripping and brilliant espionage novel? Look no further, this is 100% it! Dan Fespermans' Safehouses' is intensely intriguing and geniusly flips not only between narrators, but also, time periods, and places. The use of the narration in this manner makes 'Safe Houses' a super fast, very clever, meaty, and immensely thrilling read.The realistic prose as well as the high tension atmosphere, makes you feel as though you are there, within the pages, with the characters! From the very start, this novel is utterly gripping, and the mounting anticipation builds at every turn of the page. This writer is so skilled that there are no filler pages in this one! As one of the narrators, Helen tries desperately to unravel generations passed, ending up on a journey that is Enthralling, exciting, and puts her very life in danger. In a sense, mirroring the exact position of the 1979 Berlin narrator, which happens to be Helen's mother. From start to finish 'Safe Houses' is full of twisting, turning, dramatic, heart pounding action and has a historical edge that is insightful, and delightful, and also quite honestly, positively exciting and witty. A must Read for anyone who loves the heart racing excitement of a twisty espionage thriller!This review is my personal un-biased opinion and I thank Penguin First to Read for the advanced opportunity to read this novel!
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  • booksofallkinds
    January 1, 1970
    SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman is an intense, captivating, and gripping novel that will keep you hooked from beginning to end, and keep you guessing every step of the way.In 1979, Helen Abell works for the CIA and oversees their safe houses but when she records something that she was never supposed to hear, will she get rid of it like she is advised? And when she encounters another shady meeting, this will place her in the path of the most powerful man in their world. Fast forward over thirty year SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman is an intense, captivating, and gripping novel that will keep you hooked from beginning to end, and keep you guessing every step of the way.In 1979, Helen Abell works for the CIA and oversees their safe houses but when she records something that she was never supposed to hear, will she get rid of it like she is advised? And when she encounters another shady meeting, this will place her in the path of the most powerful man in their world. Fast forward over thirty years and Helen and her husband are found murdered and all clues seem to point to their disabled son. But their daughter knows that her brother has never been violent and is determined to uncover the truth, even if it means digging into her parents past.Compelling from the first page, I was immediately sucked into the murky world of espionage and double-crossing.With plenty of danger, secrets, lies, and subterfuge, SAFE HOUSES by Dan Fesperman is a cracking story that is perfect for those who love a fast-paced, energetic thriller. Definitely, a must-read for fans of Robert Ludlum and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys an action-packed, thrilling story.*I voluntarily reviewed this book from the Netgalley
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  • Really Into This
    January 1, 1970
    Check out all of our reviews at https://reallyintothis.comHappy Reading, friends!Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman Book ReviewSafe Houses contains storylines between past and present & Dan Fesperman writes them in a way that they play into one another perfectly. While reading, questions start fluttering around in your mind about the future storyline. As the book goes on, the two stories become more tightly wound. For me, the 1970’s Berlin portion was the more fascinating of the two - I loved read Check out all of our reviews at https://reallyintothis.comHappy Reading, friends!Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman Book ReviewSafe Houses contains storylines between past and present & Dan Fesperman writes them in a way that they play into one another perfectly. While reading, questions start fluttering around in your mind about the future storyline. As the book goes on, the two stories become more tightly wound. For me, the 1970’s Berlin portion was the more fascinating of the two - I loved reading about the politics of Europe at that time.Suspense & a Badass Woman Named HelenThe suspense and adventure in Safe Houses are right up my alley. Descriptions of places bring me right into the moment with the characters. I want to go back in time and be a woman like Helen!  She’s in a position meant to keep her out of the major action but she ends up being the most badass women in the Berlin station.  She is a principled woman who is willing to risk it all.  I really admire this character.THE VERDICTI am Really Into This book! Safe Houses is a very thrilling & compelling read that got my heart racing.Special thanks to Dan Fesperman, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group & NetGalley for providing our copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.
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  • Sooz (P.Turners Book Blog)
    January 1, 1970
    Just when I have been thinking about branching out into more spy thrillers; SAFE HOUSES comes along and blows my socks off! For some reason, the first image I conjured when reading about Helen is Peggy Carter from the MCU! A female operative, who works in a largely male dominated organisation and is trying to prove herself when she finds herself caught up in something much larger. In SAFE HOUSES for me, I found it refreshing to read such a strong female character in Helen, much as I enjoyed the Just when I have been thinking about branching out into more spy thrillers; SAFE HOUSES comes along and blows my socks off! For some reason, the first image I conjured when reading about Helen is Peggy Carter from the MCU! A female operative, who works in a largely male dominated organisation and is trying to prove herself when she finds herself caught up in something much larger. In SAFE HOUSES for me, I found it refreshing to read such a strong female character in Helen, much as I enjoyed the experience of Peggy. Interestingly written by a male author, Dan's story of Helen kept me engaged with her throughout the story and I was eager to learn more as the plot developed.At the start of this story, the dual timelines threw me off. How does events in 2014 America link with 1979 Berlin? It's only as the story progresses, that we understand the links. The twists, turns and unreliable characters made for an enjoyable read and I was left with that dreaded sense of book hangover once I'd finished!I never like to spoil the end of the books I read, but I can tell you that what Dan has now managed to achieve is an appetite for more spy thrillers! If they are written as well as SAFE HOUSES, then I'm in for a hell of a ride! 
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  • Tiffany
    January 1, 1970
    Helen Abell doesn't view her role as overseer of a network of CIA safe houses as particularly 'glamorous', and a vast waste of the skills learned in training, but she takes her role seriously. The Cold War still is a war, after all. Some of her peers and certainly her boss take her somewhat less that seriously. But two separate events occurring in one evening at one of the safe houses (two mystery men and confounding talk about 'ponds', followed by an agent's attempted rape of a young agency con Helen Abell doesn't view her role as overseer of a network of CIA safe houses as particularly 'glamorous', and a vast waste of the skills learned in training, but she takes her role seriously. The Cold War still is a war, after all. Some of her peers and certainly her boss take her somewhat less that seriously. But two separate events occurring in one evening at one of the safe houses (two mystery men and confounding talk about 'ponds', followed by an agent's attempted rape of a young agency contact), changes the course of Helen's life forever. Against all odds, Helen joins forces with two other women who also seek to bring a ruthless man to justice while spending their lives in hiding. Helen's daughter unravels the mystery following the murder of Helen and her husband by their mentally disabled son, with the aide of a somewhat mysteriously connected CIA who himself knows not who is ultimately pulling the strings. The author's tale moves through time effortlessly and immerses the reader completely in Helen's, and then her daughter's, pain, questions and resolution. Highly recommend!
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  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED this book, especially since it is loosely based on several women who did really work for the CIA in the sixties, which made this so much more appealing to me. It started off as a slow burn and built up to action the further along the story progressed. Unfortunately, at first I was a little confused about the transition from the story of Helen's work days to the present. I didn't understand the murder was about her until I read further along in the present day chapter, then everything cl I LOVED this book, especially since it is loosely based on several women who did really work for the CIA in the sixties, which made this so much more appealing to me. It started off as a slow burn and built up to action the further along the story progressed. Unfortunately, at first I was a little confused about the transition from the story of Helen's work days to the present. I didn't understand the murder was about her until I read further along in the present day chapter, then everything clicked. The twists and turns kept me guessing until right before the end. The story of three women outsmarting some of the best CIA agents in the field to right some terrible wrongs was compelling and made me wished I was part of the sisterhood. I loved their ingenuity by capitalizing on the strengths they had that wasn't necessarily due to physical power but brain power. I really wish there were more Sisterhood capers in the future.I received an advanced copy from Penguin First To Read in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This novel takes place in Germany and France in 1979 and Maryland in 2014. In 1979 Helen is working for the CIA. It was a time when women were considered not suitable to work in the field and were only there to do desk duties and menial work. Helen was responsible for the safe houses in the city and had to put up with constant put downs from her superiors and harassment from some of the men who she had to deal with. There was one conversation t With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This novel takes place in Germany and France in 1979 and Maryland in 2014. In 1979 Helen is working for the CIA. It was a time when women were considered not suitable to work in the field and were only there to do desk duties and menial work. Helen was responsible for the safe houses in the city and had to put up with constant put downs from her superiors and harassment from some of the men who she had to deal with. There was one conversation that had me muttering under my breath, even more so because I could imagine it being said. I did enjoy the reply though. What I noticed,a lot, was that many of the women who did feature had a bigger influence on the novel than most of the men. Even though they worked behind the scenes. The part of the book set in 1979 was the part that I preferred, Germany separated by the Berlin Wall and its inhabitants living in very different circumstances than they do in modern day Germany.In 2014, Helen’s daughter Anna wants answers to the murders that her brother has been accused of. She had no idea of her mother’s past and asks Henry to help her. But Henry has a motive of his own.I get confused by all the different agencies, even more so when they are not UK-based. But that didn’t stop me getting caught up in this novel. The narrative switches often and at first it was at point when it wasn’t at an important time in the story. But as it progressed and the danger levels increased I ached to know what would happen next. Especially with Helen.It is a long time since I had to put a book down because it made me feel so tense. Only to pick it up again because I couldn’t get to sleep wondering what would happen next. Especially in the final six chapters. I have never read a novel like this before, or one by this author. I will definitely be reading more.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    I really did like this book featuring espionage & a mystery. I liked the way it was written in two timelines, going back & forth, telling the 'then & now' story. It was a pretty easy, smooth flowing read, considering all the spy business. It was a quick read, keeping me up late reading....so that's a good point of review! The only thing I 'take issue' with was the quick ending, it kind of seemed 'hurried up/manufactured'....?? I just about gave a 3 star in rating for that reason, but I really did like this book featuring espionage & a mystery. I liked the way it was written in two timelines, going back & forth, telling the 'then & now' story. It was a pretty easy, smooth flowing read, considering all the spy business. It was a quick read, keeping me up late reading....so that's a good point of review! The only thing I 'take issue' with was the quick ending, it kind of seemed 'hurried up/manufactured'....?? I just about gave a 3 star in rating for that reason, but stayed with the 4th star to reward the real information at the end of the book, giving info on the 'real life/historical' aspects of the story....that was interesting, an educational aspect. This was the 1st of this author that I'd read, but will certainly look for more of his work.....I liked it.I received this e-ARC from Penguin's First-To-Read program in return for my own fair & honest review.
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