During the Arab Spring, an American spy’s final mission goes dangerously awry in this explosive and “remarkable debut” (Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author) from a former CIA officer that is perfect for fans of John LeCarre, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Alan Furst.
Shane Collins, a world-weary CIA spy, is ready to come in from the cold. Stationed in Bahrain off the coast of Saudi Arabia for his final tour, he’s anxious to dispense with his mission—uncovering Iranian support for the insurgency against the monarchy. But then he meets Almaisa, a beautiful and enigmatic artist, and his eyes are opened to a side of Bahrain most expats never experience, to questions he never thought to ask.
When his trusted informant becomes embroiled in a murder, Collins finds himself drawn deep into the conflict and his growing romance with Almaisa upended. In an instant, he’s caught in the crosshairs of a revolution. Drawing on all his skills as a spymaster, he must navigate a bloody uprising, win Almaisa’s love, and uncover the murky border where Bahrain’s secrets end and America’s begin.
“A breathless tour-de-force, the perfect spy tale” (Ian Caldwell, author of The Fifth Gospel) and dripping with authenticity, The Peacock and the Sparrow is a timely story of the elusiveness of truth, the power of love and belief, and the universal desire to be part of a cause greater than oneself.
About the Author
I.S. Berry spent six years as an operations officer for the CIA, serving in wartime Baghdad and elsewhere. She has lived and worked throughout Europe and the Middle East, including two years in Bahrain during the Arab Spring. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and Haverford College. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, she lives in Virginia with her husband and son.
A New Yorker Best Book of the Week
A CrimeReads Best May Debut
A Publishers Weekly Top Pick of the Week
A Strand Magazine Top May Read
A Virginia Living Summer Pick
“[A] crackling debut thriller.”
— The New Yorker
“The Peacock and the Sparrow is that rare thing: a genuine page turner that also has something to say. A sharp, knowing look at today’s CIA, with the moral complexities of the best spy fiction and a Persian Gulf setting so richly detailed and immediate you feel you could reach out and touch it. A remarkable debut.”
— Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author of Istanbul Passage and The Berlin Exchange
“Outstanding…The plot’s many twists will captivate readers, and Berry’s gorgeous prose is its own reward with echoes of le Carré and Graham Greene.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Something very special in the crowded genre of spy fiction. Berry's book is the most realistic espionage story I've read, heart-stopping without any contrived glamour."
— Joseph Weisberg, creator of the TV series The Americans
“Not since The Spy Who Came in from the Cold has there been such a riveting and thought-provoking story of international espionage. In the tradition of John le Carre and Graham Greene, former spy Berry has woven a twisted, richly evocative tale—one that plunges the reader into the depths of the Arab Spring and the blackest recesses of human nature. A breathless tour-de-force that smuggles the reader from the souks of Bahrain to the simmering streets of Phnom Penh, Berry’s debut delivers the perfect spy tale.”
— Ian Caldwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Fifth Gospel
"Gritty, propulsive, dark, and twisty. The setting in Bahrain during the Arab Awakening is beautifully rendered; you can feel the swampy heat on the page."
— David McCloskey, former CIA officer and author of Damascus Station
"Berry crafts a literary version of Bahrain that is utterly sumptuous and delectable... From the absurdly disconnected expatriate world of the diplomatic community to the Shia slums and the waterfront, each of Berry’s details pulls the reader further into the world she creates...exceptional."
— Diplomatic Courier
“I.S. Berry absolutely nails the psyche of case officers in this examination of life in the clandestine service. From the pitch-perfect opening to the stunning twist at the end, The Peacock and the Sparrow is gorgeously written with a surefootedness rarely seen in a debut. Sure to be a new classic among spy novels.”
— Alma Katsu, former CIA officer and author of Red London
"An astonishing debut. In the spirit and tradition of le Carré - but somehow with even greater verisimilitude - Berry perfectly captures the romance, the grit, the overarching sense of loss, and even the underlying dry comedy of a life devoted to undercover operations. CIA officer Shane Collins is the most realistic representation of a spy I've encountered in fiction."
— Lindsay Moran, former CIA officer and bestselling author of Blowing My Cover