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Read an Excerpt

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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 the Botanical Gardens, 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!






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Click on a photo to read their dossier.  

First Chapter read by Author James Ponti

Book Talk by Educator Colby Sharp


A to Z


Aisling, Scotland

The small town that is home for the City Spies.


A brilliant hacker and the newest member of the team.


Underground City of the Dead in Paris where the City Spies must venture. 

Dahl, Roald

The real-life spy and author who wrote classics such as James and the Giant Peach and Matilda.

Edinburgh, Scotland

The nearest large city to the City Spies' home and a key location in the book.


The Foundation for Atmospheric Research and Monitoring, a weather research station that is actually a secret MI6 base and home to the City Spies

Global Youth Summit

A series of rallies attracting kids from around the world to Paris and the target of Le Fantome's evil plan. 


A painting by Monet located in the Scottish National Gallery that serves as an important rendezvous point. 


James, Prince of Wales

The future King of England. (But you don't meet him until book 2.)


One of the City Spies, she's an introverted genius who prefers math to words. 


Mother and Monty

The two adults who are mentors and guardians to the City Spies


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.  

Vauxhall Cross

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.


The Zoo

What Mother calls MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross. 


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

The Seed

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.

The Idea

April, 2016

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.

The Pitch

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!

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The Deal

March 14, 2017

The deal becomes official when it's announced in Publisher's Weekly. 

The Women

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.)

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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!

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Release Day

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. 

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New York Times

March 18, 2020

City Spies debuts at #8 on the New York Times Middle Grade Bestseller List. My first time ever!