Seth Rogen is a dedicated nose-to-the-grindstone genetic biologist whose stellar lab and research skills at Germinat, a chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, earn him an opportunity to do a peer reviewed independent study on a new corn product called Bt corn. He has no problems with the fact that the corn has been engineered by using a gene found in the soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringienis (Bt). Seth considers it a bit strange, though, that his report will be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has jurisdiction over pesticides not food. However, when his lab test results consistently prove that this new product is unfit for human consumption and its long-term effects on the ecosystem are nothing less than devastating, he has no choice but to submit these undesirable findings to the company. When Germinat tables his report as non-conclusive, Seth is determined to find out what the company’s real motives are behind their genetically modified organism (GMO) product. Little does he know that the pursuit for truth may cost him his life.
“Focusing on your own narrow needs creates apathy, which holds no benefits for anyone. The bait on a hook is always free, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can take it without being caught, but you will always be a puppet on someone else’s line if you don’t care enough about the big picture and let your tiny voice be heard. When it is combined with the tiny voices of millions of others, that is the real power.”
Seeking asylum in Russia under the protection of Yuri, a Russian spy, Seth takes on a new guise, George Aimers, and a new job as an English teacher in a local University. Now that life has calmed down a bit, he meets the beautiful Natasha. Though Seth maintains his altered persona and keeps his collection of highly classified information undisclosed, he, nonetheless, hopelessly falls in love with her. Their romance slowly brews while unhackneyed events and more spies creep up to nab Seth unaware. It is a matter of time whether he will be able to successfully disclose his guarded documentation to the American public, or be captured and eventually killed as a traitor to his country.
Best-selling author Kenneth Eade is not in the business of writing books purely for entertainment. An outspoken critic for pesticides and genetically modified food – a highly critical issue in today’s news – Eade has produced a story that he states “is a work of fiction, but the threat is real.” Written in third person, An Involuntary Spy is about an ordinary citizen whose indomitable efforts to expose the truth about GMOs suddenly turns him into a “wanted man” by the U.S. government. Eade’s choice in designing a highly intelligent, yet socially awkward, character is a perfect complement to the many whistleblowers who have graced history over the years. Much like Seth Rogen, these people are not James Bond figures, but simple, everyday folk who have risked their lives and, as Seth puts it, exposed “reports to help my fellow Americans, not to betray them.”
Eade’s use of alternating chapters between Seth’s altered life and the events that lead up to it – as well as plethora of unnerving factual information about GMOs – is not only a clever literary tool, but it also keeps readers entirely engaged. Nominated for a 2014 Rone Award in mysteries/thrillers, An Involuntary Spy is absolutely riveting, suspenseful, and an eye-opener to the controversial effects of genetically engineered food.