Star of the North by D.B. John

Exciting, informative and disturbing thriller

My rating:  5 out of 5

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Soo-min (a US citizen) and her friend disappear from a South Korean beach.  12 years Star of the Northlater Soo-min’s sister is approached by the CIA.  Is her sister still alive and in North Korea, and if so can Jenna find and save her?

North Korea are testing long range nuclear missiles, and the CIA have no inside information.   Jenna, half Korean and bi-lingual,  is approached to train as a CIA agent.   Her attendance as an interpreter at a meeting with a North Korean elite political member has far reaching effects; will Jenna survive her new career spying inside North Korea for the US government? 

There is plenty of action in this absorbing and exciting thriller.  The characters in N. Korea range from a  woman living in poverty who is trying to earn enough to survive, to Cho who is a successful member of the Kim Il-Sung government.  The characters are easy to follow, and tell interesting, and often disturbing, stories.  Interspersed with the fast moving plot there is plenty of detail about life in North Korea, under the authoritarian system.  Although the book is set in 2010 the events taking place at that time have a striking similarity to what is going on now. 

5*s from me as I was immersed in the story from beginning to end, and found the material absolutely fascinating.  I broke off reading many times to google details portrayed to see if they were fiction or fact (shockingly most of them were fact!)  There is an author’s note at the end of the book with further  information  about many of the events that took place in the thriller, along with suggestions for further reading.   

Wow what a read!

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