A Book Spy Review: ‘The Pyongyang Paradox’ by Chris Westphal


Tom Huttle is on the path to new riches and an amazing new life.

Or so he thought.

After decades of writing for magazines, a job he neither hates nor loves but is ready to move on from, Huttle is ecstatic when he finally puts the finishing touches on his first novel, The Pyongyang Paradox. Sure, there’s still the rest of the book to write, but he’s on the right track and excited about where that road might lead in the future once he’s completed the story. His book, which features a debonair protagionist named Buck Samson, has even given Huttle a newfound confidence. If he can write a book, what can’t he do? Perhaps he can finally pursue his love interest. But can he really be a charming, chivalrous man of action?

He’s about to find out.

Without warning, Huttle’s life is suddenly upended when a top-secret satellite explodes, thrusting him into a role more in line with his fictional hero, Buck Samson, forcing him to think and act like his main character, a task much easier said than done . . . and less dangerous to write about than to actually live out.

Chris Westphal flashes plenty of talent with his latest offering, The Pyongyang Paradox, the fourth book in his “Chronicles of Huttle” series. While the title suggests a book-within-a-book concept, that isn’t exactly the case. In fact, Westphal’s novel couldn’t be more different than, say, Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders, a modern take on the old whodunit. Here, Westphal mixes some sarcasm with a bit of darker humor, balancing notes of satire while also weaving his way through a high-concept, somewhat daring plot that stands out for its uniqueness. In that sense, The Pyongyang Paradox is probably more in line with and comparable to Lee Goldberg’s 2018 thriller True Fiction. But even so, it scores points for going in a surprising direction and keeping readers on their toes. The flap copy boasts that The Pyongyang Paradox “is laced throughout with Chris Westphal’s quirky brand of dark humor and psychological insight,” and that certainly rings true. So if dry wit and fun, over-the-top adventures align with your preferred reading tastes, you’ll undoubtedly find plenty to love in this one—which can be read as a standalone or part of the overall series.

Book Details

Author: Chris Westphal
Series: Chronicles of Huttle #4
Pages: 345 (Paperback)
ISBN: 1947521772
Publisher: Genius Book Publishing
Release Date: January 7th, 2023



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, comes out on August 8th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.


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