By Beth Johnson
Updated November 23, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

Ninety years after her firing-squad execution, Mata Hari is still the most infamous female spy of all. In Signed, Mata Hari, atmospheric novel of seductively brief chapters, Yannick Murphy reimagines the many blanks of Hari’s sexed-up history. Born Margaretha Zelle in Holland, she married an abusive captain at 18, moved with him to Java, lost a child and her marriage, returned to Europe, and, amazingly, reinvented herself as a renowned exotic dancer. This compelling mix of erotic poetry, bio, and thriller makes a sympathetic case that Hari was less a spy than a busy courtesan who opted to bed both German and Allied officers. B+

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