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.
Critical opinion is mixed, but generally positive - the negatives are that a few critics feel that Littell's prose is a little clichéd and some feel that Odum's search for his real identity is a little overdone. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson
My admiration for Littell's novels, notably The Defection of A.J. Lewinter and The Sisters, is no secret, but I think that, at age 70, he has outdone himself with this dizzying, dazzling portrait of a spy who has so many identities -- legends, in spook-talk -- that he no longer knows who he is ... Legends is a rich, funny, perverse, angry, haunting, supremely entertaining look at our world and our government.
Wonderful writing and a great sense of fun make this another winner.
Booklist - David Wright
No respecter of the classical unities, 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 in the legendary tradition of Odysseus, yet another wily trickster who boasts to his peril that he is "no man."
New York Post
Robert Littell's convincing spy story is brimming with great characters.
Robert Littell was born on January 8, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York.
Before taking up writing full time, he was a Soviet affairs journalist for
Newsweek. His first novel was published in 1970, but he came to note in
1973 with The Defection of A.J. Lewinter. He currently lives in
His next novel, Vicious Circle, is set in Israel and Palestine and is due to be
published this September.
Bibliography Left and Right with Lion and Ryan (1970) The Defection of A. J. Lewinter (1973) Sweet Reason (1974) The October Circle (1975) Mother Russia (1978) The Debriefing (1979) The Amateur: A Novel of Revenge (1981) The Sisters: A Novel of Betrayal (1986) The Revolutionist (1988) The Once and Future Spy (1990) An Agent In Place (1991) The Visiting Professor (1993) Walking Back the Cat (1996) The Company: A Novel of the CIA...
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