Excerpt from The Company by Robert Littell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Company

A Novel of The CIA

By Robert Littell

The Company

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Vanessa said, She's changed apartments twenty-six times in the past thirty-two years. Her most recent address—which we traced when we broke out the most recent lottery signal from Moscow Radio—is on 16th Street near Antioch College. If she sticks to the pattern she'll move out in the next two or three days.

Mr. Moody was beginning to put it all together. She moves out a week or so after she's contacted by the Soviet agent in America, he said.

Right, Tessa said.

Vanessa said, When she moves, all we have to do is get the phone company to tell us when someone named Aida Tannenbaum applies for a new phone number—

Tessa finished the thought for her: Or wait for the Moscow quiz program to come up with an Alice or a Looking Glass quotation, then subtract the serial number from the lottery number—

Moody was shaking his head from side to side in wonderment. And we'll have her new phone number—the one that the Soviet agent will call.

Right.

That's it.

It looks to me, Moody said, as if you girls have made a fantastic breakthrough. I must formally instruct both of you not to share this information with anybody. By anybody I mean any-body, without exception.

As soon as the twins were gone, Moody—who, like his old mentor Angleton, was reputed to have a photographic memory—opened a four-drawer steel file cabinet and rummaged through the folders until he came to an extremely thick one marked "Kukushkin." Moody had been a member of the crack four-man team that Angleton had assigned to work through the Kukushkin serials. Now, skimming the pages of the dossier, he searched anxiously for the passage he remembered. After a time he began to wonder whether he had imagined it. And then, suddenly, his eye fell on the paragraph he'd been looking for. At one point Kukushkin—who turned out to be a dispatched agent but who had delivered a certain amount of true information in order to establish his bona fides—had reported that the cutout who serviced SASHA was away from Washington on home leave; the summons back to Russia had been passed on to the cutout by a woman who freelanced for the Washington rezidentura.

A woman who freelanced for the rezidentura!

In other words, SASHA was so important that one cutout wasn't sufficient; the KGB had built in a circuit breaker between the rezidentura and the cutout who serviced SASHA. Could it be this circuit breaker that the Kritzky twins had stumbled across? He would get the FBI to tap Aida Tannenbaum's phone on 16th Street on the off-chance the cutout who serviced SASHA called again before she moved on to another apartment, at which point they would tap the new number.

Barely able to conceal his excitement, Moody picked up an intra-office telephone and dialed a number on the seventh floor. "This is Moody in counterintelligence," he said. "Can you put me through to Mr. Ebbitt...Mr. Ebbitt, this is Moody in counterintelligence. I know it's somewhat unusual, but I'm calling you directly because I have a something that requires your immediate attention..."

Excerpted From The Company: A Novel of the CIA, starting at page 716 (hardback) by Robert Littell by permission of The Overlook Press, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © April 2002, Robert Littell. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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