Alternating between her first infiltrating assignment for the CIA in late ’60s Buenos Aires, and her coming of age separated from her family in New York City, Vera Kelly’s story unfolds in pieces. Fittingly, she is still trying to piece together her place in a world that is openly hostile to her sexuality. Kelly at first thinks that being a spy fits in with her lonely and secretive life, but when things go awry she is forced to come to terms with what things she needs to do to stay safe.
Rosalie Knecht has not written a traditional spy novel for her 2nd published book. Instead, Who is Vera Kelly? is an empathetic character study. As a girl in 1957, Vera is misunderstood and beaten by her mother, and rejected by her first crush. She takes her family’s car intending to run away, and instead is caught and sent to juvenile detention and reform school. With her family ties severed, Vera is free but rootless, in the closet but still seeking relationships with women, and due to her work in electronics, catches the attention of the CIA. On her first infiltration mission in Argentina, playing another role puts the role she plays in her “real” life in sharp focus.