Book of the Week/Free Press Book Review 8/9/11

A Nixon-era story of a “strange, dry girl” aged fourteen, a fugitive Chinese waitress, a jaded lady spy and restless hippies comes to life in James Whorton, Jr.’s Angela Sloan: A Novel (Free Press, 2011)

Angela is on the run from the CIA, despite being certain that her father, ex-CIA agent Ray Sloan had little involvement in the fallout of Watergate. As she finds ways to dodge agents, Angela also learns to smoke, drive a Scamp, and exist on diner food while being joined along her journey by a Chinese Communist named Betty/Ding, a spy named Marilyn who offers advice, and a group of hippies with their own agenda.

Angela Sloan begins its first chapter in letter form before it evolves at a gradual pace from how Angela was rescued at age seven by Ray Sloan during the 1964 Simba rebellion against the government of the Congo, after the murders of her birth parents. She would be presented over the subsequent years as Ray’s daughter.

When Ray and those working in a private firm meet an unfortunate fate after the Watergate break-in, Angela is left to her own devices, but it’s difficult not to sympathize with Ray’s own plight as the story evolves. Angela isn’t sure she can trust Betty, and eventually escapes from Marilyn’s watchful eye, who may or may not have been working with Ray. While we may never know Angela’s true identity, her concern for Ray’s welfare, as if he was her actual father, shines through on a genuine note which is difficult to miss.

There’s a few areas of Angela Sloan which drag a bit and a couple of pointless additions to the story (such as the hippie acid trip, which really wasn’t relevant to the overall story), and the final chapters could’ve ended on a stronger level, the overall story concept was fresh and original.

Rating: 4.0/5.0