Code Name: Papa by John Murray Review

by John Murray
Published by Archway Genres: Action & Adventure, General

Code name papa coverTitle: Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight

Author: John Murray

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: September 30th 2015

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

Source: I received this book free of charge from Book Publicity Services in exchange for an honest review

Who’d have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals–both men and women–who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that’s what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.

Meanwhile you’re just going to have to call me “Papa” like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years.


Unlike the stories you might have heard from your own papa, John Murray tells stories full of intrigue, heart-pounding action, and unbelievable importance on a global scale. As the first memoir that I have read outside of school assignments, this was a good book to lead me out into other types of writing style. Assuming all of the assignments that the author recounted throughout his memoir are factual accounts of real-life events, Code Name: Papa reads nothing like what I might expect from non-fiction; instead, reading more like a drama or a spy novel. Murray’s writing style was a bit of a stumbling block until I let go of my expectation that every book should read like an epic fantasy (my niche). Sentences are short and there is little detail or description about, well, much of anything. Each mission/chapter is written with brief statements that at times almost sound like an After Action Report that recounts each step that Papa took in every situation.

Code Name: Papa is the first installation in a trilogy; the next book will be Code Name: Amy, which will focus on the woman who headed the Canadian branch of the shadow organization. As of now, I can’t even hazard a guess about on whom the third book might focus. My biggest criticism of this book is that there needs to be some major proofreading and copy editing. There are grammatical errors, punctuation errors, even typos that completely change the meaning of sentences. It is distracting and confusing, and detracts from the memories that Murray lays bare. My other criticism is that the end of the book seems undeveloped, as though Murray were a sprinter hitting the wall on a 400m dash: He charges off of the starting line and blurs through the first three-quarters of the book, only to hit a wall when anaerobic respiration capacity caps out. The last several chapters skip over a huge chunk of time and barely cover any missions, which are the main focus of the book. It seemed like a sudden shift and took the wind out of my sails since I anticipated some sort of anticipation-building prelude for the next installment in the trilogy.

One piece of advice I’d give to you, my bibliophile buddies, as you read this eye-widening memoir, is that if you find yourself stuttering through the initial chapters as you get used to Murray’s succinct sentence structure: take a hot bath. No, really. The heat gets your heart pumping harder and causes perspiration giving you the sensation that you are right there with Papa, eliminating the enemy and making it back to safety. I do wonder whether the retelling of these stories was in some way cathartic for Murray, who must suffer from post-traumatic stress after surviving not only Vietnam, but the many, many near-death events that punctuated his career. I hope it was. And “John”? Thank you for your service.


**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I did not receive monetary compensation from it.**

Find JOHN MURRAY online:

Official Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Buy CODE NAME: PAPA online:

Official Website | Goodreads | Kindle | Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Publisher

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” ~ Neil Gaiman