Get a signed copy March 21 at The Sweetgrass Inn or April 12 at the Charleston Library Society
Butler will sign her book at 7 p.m. on March 21 at The Sweetgrass Inn at Wild Dunes, hosted by The Village Bookseller, as well as at 10:30 a.m. on April 12 at the Charleston Library Society, hosted by Buxton Books.
In her debut novel, local author Brittany Butler channels her career as a CIA operative into a ripping thriller centered on the hunt for radical Muslim terrorists. The kicker? The protagonist is a woman. Butler builds former Army Ranger-turned-spy Juliet Arroway as a badass, yes, and an expert in the real-life techniques and tactics used to infiltrate terrorist networks. “In the movies and television, a female spy is often portrayed as a sexual dominatrix using her body to get information,” Butler explains. “I wanted to change that narrative.”
The Syndicate Spy (Greenleaf Book Group Press, March 2022) is set in the near future when alternative energy, not petroleum, fuels the world’s economy. Arroway works for “The Syndicate,” a global intelligence agency charged with hunting down a new wave of bad guys and stopping an energy war. Her mission is to take down the leader of an ISIS-like caliphate that employs beheadings and bombs to muscle control of the alternative energy market. The hunt unfolds as Arroway deals with the murder of her father, the loss of her boyfriend, and her complex relationship with an unexpected partner, a handsome FBI agent.
“In the movies and television, a female spy is often portrayed as a sexual dominatrix using her body to get information. I wanted to change that narrative.” —Brittany Butler
An admirable debut read, the book rings authentic with Butler leveraging her hands-on experience in the world of espionage. The Florida native joined the CIA after being recruited while she was working at the US Embassy in Paris in 2004. She spent nine years helping to identify and manage international spies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, including operations targeting leaders of extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. There, she says she encountered sexism in the ranks of the world’s largest spy agency and saw the appalling treatment of women in parts of the Muslim world.
Butler brings those experiences to light through Arroway and her undercover source Miriam, a feminist Saudi princess walking a knife’s edge between ensuring the royal family’s survival and her dedication to improving the lives of Muslim women. Both strong female players use tradecraft and intellect in their battle against the brutal caliphate. “I wanted to capture what it was really like to be a female intelligence officer,” Butler says.
The Syndicate Spy, billed as the first in a series, concludes with two stunning twists that propel the story forward. As she works on the next chapter in the saga, Butler continues to advocate for women in the Middle East and southwest Asia. She’s volunteered with Women for Afghan Women, the world’s largest organization of its kind, to help create shelters in the embattled country that provide havens for Afghan women and children. Since moving to Charleston in 2020, she’s been assisting Afghan refugees who have relocated to the Lowcountry through Lutheran Services. “It was hard to watch what happened in 2021,” Butler says of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. “We have to honor our commitment to these individuals.”
From the Isle of Palms home she shares with her husband, Matthew, three sons, and dog, Gus, Butler reports she’s about halfway through her second book, which “will be more focused on what the Middle East will look like with a female in charge.”
WEB EXTRA - In Her Own Words: Listen to Brittany Butler explain why she wanted to write her first book, The Syndicate Spy.
@formerspy1 Replying to @roylarsen2 My thoughts on Homeland and why I think it’s important to change the narrative of how female intelligence officers are portrayed in Hollywood #homeland #spymovies #ciaagent #cia #intel #secretagent #espionage #womeninstem #spy ♬ original sound - Brittany C Butler