ADDRESSES: Home—Chevy Chase, MD. Agent—Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency, 50 Talmage Farm Ln., East Hampton, NY 11937.
CAREER: American Institute of Iranian Studies, Tehran, Iran, director, mid-1970s; Amnesty International USA, New York, NY, Iran country coordinator, 1995-97. Served as chief editor for Middle East Executive Reports, Washington, DC; has taught at Tehran University, University of Jondi Shapur, Columbia University, and Georgetown University.
Finding Hoseyn, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1986.
Morning Spy, Evening Spy, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Colin MacKinnon, a Middle East expert who has worked and taught in Iran, is the author of the political thrillers Finding Hoseyn and Morning Spy, Evening Spy. Set in Tehran in 1977, during the final days of the Shah’s regime, Finding Hoseyn follows an American journalist’s efforts to find the killer of an Israeli spy. His search takes him throughout Europe and the Middle East, as he chases a shadowy figure known as Hoseyn. In MacKinnon’s debut novel, wrote New York Times Book Review critic Newgate Callendar, “we get a good idea of what life in Iran was like in pre-Khomeini days, of how the country was ripe for revolution, of the fanaticism of the religious element, of the determination of the terrorists and of the gossipy approach of the foreign press contingent. Mr. MacKinnon does not preach but merely stands outside his political world, reporting. And a splendid reporter he is.”
Two decades after his first book appeared, MacKinnon published Morning Spy, Evening Spy, “a haunting, disturbingly realistic portrait of the failings, organizational and personal, that opened up the skies for 9/11,” wrote Booklist critic Frank Sennett. In the book, CIA agent Paul Patterson investigates the murder of an operative in Pakistan who had been providing intelligence on Osama Bin Laden. As he gathers information, Patterson realizes that he has stumbled upon a huge al-Qaeda operation, but his findings are lost amidst a sea of governmental red tape. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the novel, stating that MacKinnon “shows great insight into the inner workings of U.S. intelligence,” and a contributor in Kirkus Reviews noted that the author “has a quiet, spare style and a knack for nailing down just the right details. It’s an approach that lends the story an air of authenticity.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, September 1, 2006, Frank Sennett, review of Morning Spy, Evening Spy, p. 62.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2006, review of Morning Spy, Evening Spy, p. 693.
New York Times Book Review, March 16, 1986, Newgate Callendar, “Crime,” review of Finding Hoseyn.
Publishers Weekly, August 7, 2006, review of Morning Spy, Evening Spy, p. 30.