BookBrowse Reviews Legends by Robert Littell

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Legends

A Novel of Dissimulation

by Robert Littell

Legends by Robert Littell X
Legends by Robert Littell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2005, 386 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A convincing spy story brimming with great characters.

From the book jacket: In 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.

Comment: The first Robert Littell novel I read was The Company, a vast but never sprawling 894 page novel covering 45 years of CIA history from its founding in 1947 (from the ashes of the OSS) up until 1995.  Legends is set on a smaller scale (running to a mere 380 something pages) in post-Cold War Russia.  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.

"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." - Booklist.

"Legends is a rich, funny, perverse, angry, haunting, supremely entertaining look at our world and our government." - The Washington Post.

This review is from the May 3, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.