Liar's Candle

By August Thomas

John le Carré meets Olen Steinhauer in this brilliant debut thriller about a highly intelligent but naïve State Department intern who is targeted for death after she becomes “the woman who knows too much.”

Penny Kessler, a young intern at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, wakes up in a hospital on the morning of July 5 to find herself at the center of an international crisis. The day before, the Embassy had been the target of a devastating terrorist attack that killed hundreds of Penny’s friends and colleagues. Not only has a photograph of Penny emerging from the rubble become the defining image of the event (#TheGirlwiththeFlag), but for reasons she doesn’t understand, her bosses believe she’s a crucial witness.

Suddenly, everyone is desperately interested in what Penny knows. But what does she know? And who can she trust? As she struggles to piece together her memories of the event, she discovers that Zach Robson, the young diplomat she’s been falling for all summer, went missing during the attack. Now his boss at the CIA, Christina Ekdahl, wants people to believe that Zach was a traitor. Only one person stands in her way: Penny. And Christina will do anything to silence her.

In a race to stay alive and uncover the truth, Penny reluctantly partners with Connor Beauregard, a rookie CIA officer on his first overseas assignment. But the two won’t survive unless they can outwit—and outmaneuver—everyone from the Turkish president and his daughter to Islamic extremists, the US State Department, and the CIA itself.