Kat Foster, a British junior diplomat, finds herself in hot water after punching an American captain. To regain her status, Kat agrees to take a top secret fact finding mission for the CIA. She must interview an international drug dealer known as the Chemist and find out what information he might have to trade about a mysterious Cold War Soviet weapon known as Pandora. The only catch? The Chemist claims to be in Ozerkistan, a country that doesn’t exist.
Unknown Unknowns is a fantastic thriller that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Transitioning between narrators and story lines until they eventually converge in an explosion of action, Unknown Unknowns manages to stay several steps ahead of its reader, never really giving its trajectory away. With so many predictable spy thrillers on the shelves, Unknown Unknowns is a pleasant change of pace. Never taking itself too seriously, there are even moments of hilarity that feel utterly more real than most spy thrillers.
A woman once violated, Kat Foster remains a strong, independent force of nature who throws herself into her work and is remarkably capable. After she was attacked, Kat spent a few years training in Krav Maga, making her anything but the damsel in distress when things inevitably start to go awry. Though Kat might look like a mix of cliches, Bromley manages to make her feel deep and rich, and by far the best drawn character in the book. If Unknown Unknowns has weaknesses, it lies mainly in its villain and the almost unbelievable motives that drive the narrative.
I did feel that the ending was a bit abrupt, and yet, I am certain that was Bromley’s intention. Maintaining that realism with the spy world, answers won’t come wrapped in neat packages with endings that explain it all. It might be a bit unsatisfying, especially for some readers, but it certainly leaves you wanting more from Kat Foster and the others that populate Unknown Unknowns.