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Legends: A Novel of Dissimulationby Robert Littell
Synopses & Reviews
Robert Littell is the undisputed master of American spy fiction, hailed for his profound grasp of the world of international espionage. His previous novel, The Company, an international bestseller, was praised as "one of the best spy novels ever written" (Chicago Tribune). For his new novel, Legends, Littell focuses on the life of one agent caught in a "wilderness of mirrors" where both remembering and forgetting his past are deadly options.
Martin Odum is a CIA field agent turned private detective, struggling his way through a labyrinth of past identities — "legends," in CIA parlance. Is he really Martin Odum? Or is he Dante Pippen, an IRA explosives maven? Or Lincoln Dittmann, Civil War expert? These men like different foods, speak different languages, have different skills. Is he suffering from multiple personality disorder, brainwashing, or simply exhaustion? Can Odum trust the CIA psychiatrist? Or Stella Kastner, a young Russian woman who engages him to find her brother-in-law so he can give her sister a divorce?
As Odum redeploys his dormant tradecraft skills to solve Stella's case, he travels the globe battling mortal danger and psychological disorientation. Part Three Faces of Eve, part The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and always pure Robert Littell, Legends — from unforgettable opening to astonishing ending — again proves Littell's unparalleled prowess as a seductive storyteller.
"As in The Company (2002), a long and serious chronicle of the CIA, Littell provides plenty of inside intelligence info in his superb new thriller, but he adds a decidedly comic spin. A female CIA executive looks frighteningly like Fred Astaire, while a former top agent works as a PI out of a former pool parlor above a nondescript Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn. The detective's name seems to be Martin Odum, but 'Fred Astaire' calls him Dante, and he also goes by Lincoln Dittmann, the name of a Civil War enthusiast whose cartons of memorabilia sit unopened in Martin's office. Is Martin Odum himself a 'legend' — a fake identity dreamed up in the dark imagination of the CIA? Because he needs the work, Martin agrees to help an old Russian KGB agent find his Israeli daughter's husband and persuade the man to give her a 'get' — a divorce decree required by religious law. The husband has been pretending he's Jewish to cover up his link to a Russian criminal called the Oligarkh. As the bodies of his friends and clients begin to pile up, Odum searches for answers about not only the missing husband but also himself. Wonderful writing and a great sense of fun make this another winner. Agent, Ed Victor. 150,000 first printing; 6-city author tour. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Littell] has outdone himself with this dizzying, dazzling portrait....[A] rich, funny, perverse, angry, haunting, supremely entertaining look at our world and our government." The Washington Post
"Littell imbues his tale with the same split personality of its protagonist, veering from jocose banter to grim torture, but for readers prepared to follow his lead, he delivers a smart, fun, strange adventure..." Booklist
"Littell's sharp images, breathless chases and nasty double-crossers please as ever, but the splintered narrative suffers from a central identity crisis that blurs the focus and slows the pace." Kirkus Reviews
"Touching on the collapse of the Soviet Union, world economy, Chechen rebels, Israel, Lebanon, the state of modern intelligence-gathering, and the perils of beekeeping, Legends provides enough action for the most devoted espionage fan." BookReporter.com
"If Robert Littell didn't invent the spy novel, he should have." Tom Clancy
Martin Odum is a one-time CIA field agent turned private detective in Brooklyn, struggling his way through a labyrinth of memories of past identities — "legends" in CIA parlance. Is he suffering from multiple personality disorder, brainwashing, or simply exhaustion? Is he a creation of the Legend Committee at the CIA's Langley headquarters? Can he trust the CIA psychiatrist? Or the Deputy Director of Operations? Or Stella Kastner, a young Russian woman who engages him to find her brother-in-law so he can give her sister, an Orthodox Jew, a divorce, which under religious law requires the husband's presence? As Martin Odum redeploys his dormant tradecraft skills to solve Stella's case, he travels the globe battling mortal danger and psychological disorientation.
Who is Martin Odum? A retired spy, or a "legend, a false identity created by the CIA? The answer is in the gripping new novel by the author of The Company.
About the Author
Robert Littell has been elevated to the highest ranks by connoisseurs of the literary spy novel. His novels include The Company, The Defection of A.J. Lewinter, The Once and Future Spy, The Amateur, and The Sisters. He is an American who lives in France.
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