1. At the outset, the locale of The Reluctant Spy is Dayton Ohio. But, after the first chapter, the story unfolds elsewhere, ending up on the coast of France. Why was it important for the author to establish the geographical foundation of the story in the American midwest?
  2. In the final chapter, Dave Levitan tells his wife that he “may have saved the world”. Is he being sarcastic?
  3. Levitan is not a private eye or a policeman; he’s a Treasury agent working for a Coast Guard Admiral. Is his position with the Coast Guard an advantage or a disadvantage? Is his perspective different from the typical fictional detective’s?
  4. Levitan is a secular Jew. Koyne thinks of himself as “a Yid”. Is there a difference? If so, how do the distinctions between their versions of “Jewish” influence story?
  5. Helen, Levitan’s wife, has an important role to play in the story but doesn’t appear until the final chapter. Even so, the reader forms an idea of her and cares about her. In what way is the marriage unusual? What does the relationship tell us about Dave’s personality?
  6. When Iowan George Koyne was a college student, his parents made a radical, high-risk decision. What did they decide? Putting yourself in their situation, what would you have done? Considering their circumstances at the end of the story, do you think their decision was justified?
  7. The Cold War was new, dangerously close to World War Three. Rear Admiral Spiegel is Levitan’s steely-eyed boss. Is he a good boss or a bad one? He redirects the plot in different parts of the story. In what ways is he a plot engine? What is his relationship to President Truman? What does his character tell us about 1948 American politics?
  8. A new character, Clark Clifford, the President’s top adviser, flies onto the stage in a DC-9. Given the stakes involved in the case, is it plausible that a man of Clifford’s importance would have flown across the Atlantic to meet with Dave Levitan? What was the emergency?
  9. A crucial scene of the story takes place at a baseball game between the Saint Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants. Both men are compelled to be there, but for different reasons. Why are they there?
  10. Levitan and Koyne are aboard The SS America on a cruise from New York to LeHavre during the last chapters of The Reluctant Spy. Why did the author want to use an ocean liner as the setting for the story’s endgame? And why the SS America?