CIA agents must lead many lives, have many identities - but what if those identities get confused, with past, present and future jumbled together? Is it multiple personality disorder, brainwashing, or simply exhaustion?
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.
1993: THE CONDEMNED MAN CATCHES A GLIMPSE OF THE ELEPHANT
THEY HAD FINALLY
GOTTEN AROUND TO PAVING THE SEVEN
kilometers of dirt spur connecting the
village of Prigorodnaia to
the four-lane Moscow-Petersburg highway. The local priest,
from a week-long binge, lit beeswax tapers to Innocent of
Irkutsk, the saint who in the 1720s had repaired the road to
and was now about to bring civilization to Prigorodnaia in the
of a ribbon of macadam with a freshly painted white stripe down
The peasants, who had a shrewder idea of how Mother Russia functioned, thought it more likely that this evidence of progress, if that was the correct name for it, was somehow related to the purchase, several months earlier, of the late and little lamented Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria's sprawling wooden dacha by a man identified only as the Oligarkh. Next to nothing was known about him. He came and went at odd hours in a glistening black ...
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).
Full Review (319 words).
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.
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 ...
If you liked Legends, try these:
Six years ago, Alec Milius got out of the spy game after unbearably great personal cost. Yet when a prominent politician goes missing, the urge that drove Milius to originally enter the spy game comes roaring back, and soon Alec finds himself in the midst of another international conspiracy.
Set in the weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dr. Rudi Rosenharte, formerly a Stasi foreign agent, is sent to Trieste to rendezvous with his old lover and agent, Annalise Schering. The problem: Rudi knows shes dead.
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