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Sara Martinez is a hacker facing years in juvenile detention, until she meets Mother, a spy who gets her out of jail and into MI6, British Secret Intelligence.
Operating out of a castle in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from around the world who've fallen through the cracks only to form a family like no other. When they’re not at the local boarding school, they’re mastering spy skills like sleight of hand, breaking and entering, covert observation, and explosives. So they can go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.
Before she knows what she’s doing, Sara's off to Paris for an international youth summit, hacking into a rival school’s computer to prevent them from winning a million euros, dangling thirty feet off the side of a building, and trying to stop a villain…all while navigating the complex dynamics of her new team.
No one said saving the world was easy…
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After thwarting a notorious villain at an eco-summit in Paris, the City Spies are gearing up for their next mission. Operating out of a base in Scotland, this secret team of young agents working for the British Secret Intelligence Service’s MI6 division have honed their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.
Fourteen-year-old Sydney is a surfer and a rebel from Bondi Beach, Australia. She’s also a field ops specialist for the City Spies. Sydney is excited to learn that she’ll be going undercover on the marine research vessel the Sylvia Earle. But things don’t go exactly as planned, and while Sydney does find herself in the spotlight, it’s not in the way she was hoping.
Meanwhile, there’s been some new intel regarding a potential mole within the organization, offering the spies a lead that takes them to San Francisco, California. But as they investigate a spy who died at Muir Woods, they discover that they are also being investigated. And soon, they’re caught up in an exciting adventure filled with rogue missions and double agents!
This mission is hot! The City Spies are a go!
After taking down a mole within their organization, the City Spies are ready for their next mission—once again using their unique skills and ability to infiltrate places adults can’t. The sinister Umbra has their sights set on recruiting a North Korean nuclear physicist by any means necessary, and the City Spies plan to keep an eye on his son by sending Paris to the chess prodigy’s tournaments in Moscow and Beijing.
Meanwhile, Sydney’s embedded as a junior reporter for a teen lifestyle site as she follows the daughter of a British billionaire on tour with the biggest act on her father’s music label to uncover what links both the band and the billionaire have to a recent threat from an old Soviet missile base.
From a daring break-in at one of London’s most exclusive homes to a dangerous undercover mission to a desperate search and rescue operation on the streets of Beijing, the City Spies have their work cut out for them on their most dangerous mission yet.
Buy City Spies Forbidden City
GOLDEN GATE BOOK TRAILER
Click on a photo to read their dossier.
First Chapter read by Author James Ponti
Book Talk by Educator Colby Sharp
A to Z
The small coastal town that is home for the City Spies.
A brilliant hacker and the newest member of the team.
Also known as Clemmie, she is Mother's wife. But she has turned and is now an agent for Umbra.
The real-life spy and author who wrote classics such as James and the Giant Peach and Matilda.
The nearest large city to the City Spies' home and a key location in the books.
The Foundation for Atmospheric Research and Monitoring, a weather research station that is actually a secret MI6 base and home to the City Spies
A legendary MI6 agent, better known as Tru, who is Mother's boss and one of only a handful of people who know about the City Spies.
A painting by Monet located in the Scottish National Gallery that serves as an important rendezvous point.
Inspection Générale des Carrières
The organization which oversees and controls the catacombs beneath Paris. It was created by Louis XVI in 1777.
James, Prince of Wales
The future King of England and an old friend of Mother's from university.
One of the City Spies, she's an introverted genius who prefers math to words.
A desert in Northern China near the Mongolian border where the Chinese government tests and stores its nuclear weapons. It's plays a key role in Forbidden City.
Mother and Monty
The two adults who are mentors and guardians to the City Spies
North Korean Embassy
A key location in Moscow for Operation Checkmate in Forbidden City.
Operation Willy Wonka
The official name of the mission that brings the City Spies to Paris.
He saved Mother's life five years ago and became the original City Spy.
Queen and Country
A very mediocre spy movie whose production plays a key role for the City Spies.
A former street magician and the youngest of the City Spies.
A once rebellious student who's turned into a leader on the team.
Three Lions Inn
A run down Parisian hotel that is most definitely not what it first appears to be.
A global crime syndicate made up of mercenaries, terrorists, and former intelligence agents and the nemesis of MI6 and the City Spies.
The name given to the London Headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service.
Wallangara School for Girls
A boarding school in Australia whose principal was all to happy to see Sydney leave.
The name of the deadly virus stolen by Umbra that lies at the heart of the mission.
A Moscow taxi driver who has many special skills not typically found in a cabbie.
A situation in chess in which a players situation worsens no matter what move they make. It comes into play during Operation Checkmate in Forbidden City.
Mother is a veteran MI6 who oversee the City Spies. To help them remember the keys to spycraft, he comes up with little sayings that he calls MOTHERISMS.
Timeline of a Book
April 4, 2016
While on a family vacation in Europe, I had the first inkling of an idea about a book series that visited great cities around the world.
At the mall with my wife, I jokingly say, you go shop while I come up with my next book series. I stood in this spot and looked at the books and asked, "What's missing? 30 minutes later I had the idea for City Spies.
June 25, 2016
Ten minutes after this picture was taken at the ALA convention, I was walking with my publisher Mara Anastas and decided to pitch her the idea. She loved it!
March 14, 2017
The deal becomes official when it's announced in Publisher's Weekly.
April 27, 2017
These four amazing women - publisher, agent, wife, editor - are the first four people to read each stage of the book. They're the key to everything!
May 26, 2018
I research as much as I can. I took this at the train station in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is prominently featured in chapter 6.
September 22, 2018
With the release of my book Trapped! I'm free to concentrate on writing City Spies. (Once the Trapped! book tour is over at least.)
August 18, 2018
Writing is a series of constant revisions. The red sections are notes from my editor. There are a lot of red sections.
October 24, 2019
Advance Reader Copies are sent to reviewers and booksellers. This is starting to feel like a real book!
March 10. 2020
City Spies is released while I'm in the midst of a six-state book tour. This picture is from my home store the Writer's Block in Winter Park, Florida.
New York Times
March 18, 2020
City Spies debuts at #8 on the New York Times Middle Grade Bestseller List. My first time ever!