Safe Houses Reviewed By Fran Lewis of
Fran Lewis

Reviewer Fran Lewis: Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently. She is a member of Who's Who of America's Teachers and Who's Who of America's Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children's books and a fourth Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s story in honor of her mom. Fran hopes to create more awareness for a cure of Alzheimer.
She was also the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school's newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites. You can read some of my reviews on and on ijustfinished under the name Gabina. Follow Here To Listen to Fran's Radio Show and Here

By Fran Lewis
Published on June 22, 2018

Author: DanFesperman
ISBN: 0525520198
Publisher: Knopf

Author: Dan Fesperman
ISBN: 0525520198
Publisher: Knopf

 Helen Abell is a low level employee of the CIA and accidentally overhears and decides to tape records a violent encounter between a German woman and a high placed ranking officer named Kevin Gilley. The setting is West Berlin and the year is 1979. Helen is astute and perceptive but naïve in some respects as she confides in the one person she feels she can trust her boyfriend who also works for this agency. When she tries to defend this woman and hopefully prevent what happens next, she seeks justice for her death and tries to get Gilley what he deserves. But, forewarned and cut off from resources and tracked every step of the way you wonder just what is really behind the use of these safe houses. Two tapes that would change her life and someone that would betray her and hide what would challenge the actions of someone else and reveal something that no one thought existed.

This story is told in two time periods as the author flashed to 2014 and we meet Willard Shoat, Helen’s mentally unstable son who is arrested for the murder of both Helen and his father. Murdering his parents brings to light the injustices done to those that are disabled and yet when questioned you wonder if he is even aware of his actions and yet he is hiding something but what? On this farm in Maryland he is the only suspect and his sister Anna, shows up and hires PI Henry Mattick to investigate but he too has his own agenda. Searching through her papers she learns that her mother worked for the CIA and that she was considered a spy and Mattick although he appears to be helping her has his own secrets that have yet to be revealed. Where we flashback to the U.S. embassy in Berlin and Helen’s determination to find out more about someone that might have killed this German woman.

Flashing back and forth between time periods we get to know more about Helen and the sisterhood that reached out to her in order to get justice for Annaliese. Determined to get the person that killed her and take down the man called Robert, she enlists the aid of many who fell prey to this man’s wiles as he gave them no choice but to succumb. Four safe houses and one would be used to help Helen with the drops, the information and hopefully the takedown but Helen was so concerned about others she neglected to be weary for herself. In 2014 we get to know more about Anna, whose real name is the same as the victim in the past that was called Freda, who hires Henry but as they investigate, get the police reports and learn more about her mother’s real quest as a spy, she does not realize that danger is right in front of her. Henry has history with the DOJ and the CIA but will she realize that something in his past is about to happen in the present and that might be why he agreed to help her?
Author Dan Fesperman creates a plot that is multi-leveled and extremely intricate and complex as he weaves a tapestry so delicate and fine that the final result might cause many snags and rips before the picture is retouched and the tapestry and picture created within its design reveals the truth behind Anna’s parent’s death.

Just where is Kevin Gilley in the past and although he is a high ranking officer and seems immune to prosecution or consequences, seeing him assault a young German woman, and told by her superiors to forget she ever saw the incident and don’t dare make waves or say a word, or you will face the wrath of those in charge and for a while she does. Gilley as we get to know the women of the Sisterhood is a serial rapist and seems to have eluded justice and Helen has her own network of women who share her concerns and hopes to navigate the inner workings of the CIA and find out what she suspects about this man. But, when she is killed in the present does it have anything to do with her past?

Things get more complicated when Claude comes back into the picture and threatens Helen and demands that she does something for him. In the present something startling and surprising as Anna and Henry request to speak with her brother who was supposedly transferred to another mental facility but they have no record of him or the file. Added in Dr. Patel, his original doctor has a FEDEX form asking that the file be sent, the date it was sent but the doctor who was to receive it never did. What is behind this deception?

Helen enters her office and is dismissed and taken into custody by someone named Allen but somehow she manages to disguise herself, go out of the window and escapes but where will she go and will her contact from the Sisterhood help her while in the present Anna and Henry find out more about her past life and a key that might enlighten them all.

When the pieces from the past come together in the present the author reveals a group called the Pond and the ramifications of this group in the present might have brought down many from the past. An ending so filled with shock, surprises and a woman named Helen who would not give up despite the betrayals, lies and deceits of those she thought she could trust as Anna learns something within the documents that she reads, her mother’s voice and something everyone thought was gone is not. Who killed Helen? Who is still out there? Is no one that works for the agency free from harm in THE SAFE HOUSES? Some cover-ups remain covered!