The Laynie Portland spirit-filled series seems like a type of book I do not read: historical fiction, character-driven, seems suspiciously like a romance. And I grew tired of spy thrillers a long time ago. Yet I loved it. In fact, I just spent four days devouring the entire series.
The world created is dark, dangerous, ugly, yet compelling. Laynie Portland becomes a woman of power through grotesque circumstances. But the constant glimpses of hope sustained me. This woman, driven by lies, does horrendous things to people who seem to deserve it and develops into an inspiring leader. You can’t do much better than that.
The Laynie Portland spirit-filled series touches gritty reality
The world Laynie lives in seems consumed by unvarnished sin. I live in a world like this. Vikki Kestell shows me a mastery of the difficult art of presenting horrendous evil without ever crossing the line into gratuitous titillation or shock and awe. The four books read like one complete book. I strongly recommend that you have all four books when you get started. This series will take you on a glorious ride that is only spoiled by a couple of cliffhanger book endings. The author’s only excuse seems to be that she repented of far worse reader abuse. She explains that at the beginning of book four.
The initial description of book one
In one way or another, every “righteous” clandestine operative is sought out, enlisted, and trained for the difficult and often terrible work intended to ensure that the principles of freedom triumph over ideologies that seek to dominate and enslave.
The year is 1977; the Cold War is intensifying. Helena Portland—Laynie to her family—is set to graduate from the University of Washington, when recruiters from Marstead International invite her to dinner and an informal employment interview. Laynie is flattered: Marstead International is a technology and aeronautics firm with a global presence and reputation.
But behind their corporate image? Marstead is a front for joint U.S./NATO covert operations.
Not far into the dinner conversation, the recruiters make their pitch: “We have offices around the world, Miss Portland, and we actively seek college graduates with the right mix of aptitude and skills to work and grow within our worldwide market. Actually, we have been observing you for some time. We feel that you have the potential to serve . . . the interests of your country.”
Laynie catches their drift and confronts it. “Let me see if I understand you correctly. You are representatives of a U.S. intelligence agency, unnamed so far, and you are trying to recruit me. Do I have it right?”
When Laynie accepts Marstead’s offer, she is sent through the Company’s rigorous tradecraft and tactical training program. Laynie soon discovers that the world of clandestine service is dirty business. To succeed, operatives must bend and twist the tenets of liberty. Along the way, noble objectives tarnish and corrode, hearts harden, and methods and means drag virtue into the gutter.
Laynie perseveres at the work set before her; she enters into it because she holds a secret—a secret she has never shared with anyone, a view of herself that not only condones the awful choices she is asked to make, but justifies them.
I am worthless; my life has no value. I am only useful when the work I do serves a greater purpose.
This all deserves the Spirit-filled Fiction Recognition of Achievement
It’s been far too long since I read a series which so obviously deserves this recognition. This is a masterful series. Vikki Kestell and her team have clearly earned this award. As I said, my only quibble was solved by the fact that I didn’t read it until after it was completely released. It brought me to worship and there is no higher praise in my experience.
I highly recommend the entire series. I believe it would make an edifying adventure for a youth group with strong discussion sessions planned. But it could be too much for the very young or immature teen.