Former Princeton High School teacher set to release espionage thriller

Former Princeton High School English teacher S. Lee Manning is fulfilling a lifetime dream with publication of her espionage thriller "Trojan Horse" by Encircle Publications, available on Oct. 16.

Former Princeton High School English teacher S. Lee Manning is fulfilling a lifetime dream with publication of her espionage thriller “Trojan Horse” by Encircle Publications, available on Oct. 16.

“The long road to publication presented unexpected hurdles, including the death of an agent, and a previous publisher who pulled out of the mystery genre months before the book was scheduled to debut, now finally achieving the goal of publication this October,” Manning said.

The novel features Kolya Petrov, a Russian Jewish immigrant working for American intelligence, who is betrayed by his own agency in a devious plot to thwart possible terrorism by an anti-Semitic neo-Fascist Romanian.

“Trojan Horse” questions how far an American agency should go to fight terrorism, and also whether unspoken and unacknowledged bias can be as problematic as open and violent prejudice.

While the novel takes place in Washington D.C., New York, and Romania, Trenton residents might notice two subtle references to the area: Teo Lorenzo, one of the novel’s major characters, worked at his uncle’s pizza restaurant, although exactly which Lorenzo pizzeria is left to the reader’s imagination. And, the bad guys take off in a private jet from an unnamed airfield, which is in fact the Trenton Airport, Manning said.

Manning moved to Hiltonia, Trenton, in 1989 with her husband and then 2-year-old daughter, Jenny. Her legal career ranged from the New York firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore to the State of New Jersey as a deputy attorney general, to public defender at the Office of Parental representation, to solo practice.

In 2001, Manning agreed to chair New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NJADP), writing articles on the risk of wrongful execution and arguing against the death penalty on radio and television. She helped draft the legislation that was eventually adopted, abolishing the death penalty in New Jersey in 2007.

Manning took a break from law from 2005-09, when she taught English at Princeton High School.

Now retired from law, Manning and her husband Jim spend most of their time in Elmore, Vermont, where they became residents in 2014. While she spends the bulk of her time writing thrillers, Manning occasionally takes a break to perform standup. In 2019 after a course in comedy from the Vermont Comedy Club, Manning was a semi-finalist in the Vermont’s Funniest Comic contest.

Manning is currently working on her second book in the series, working title “Nerve Attack,” which is scheduled for release next summer.

The first chapter is available on Manning’s website, and “Trojan Horse” is available for preorder from Amazon, from Encircle Publications,, or from independent book stores.