Innocents Club

Taylor Smith, Author
Taylor Smith, Author Mira Books $22.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-55166-544-3
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55204-228-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55204-229-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-1-55166-818-5
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Picking up where 1995's Guilt by Silence left off, Smith's latest is a graceful, compellingly written thriller about how Cold War secrets--and great literary figures--never really die. At the center of the plot is Mariah Bolt, a senior CIA analyst who reluctantly agrees to travel to Los Angeles to convince a Russian diplomat to become a double agent. Mariah, daughter of the late great American author Benjamin Bolt, figures she'll combine the work trip with a visit to her father's literary agent, who's been analyzing an unpublished manuscript that Mariah discovered some months earlier after her home was flooded, and that appears to be her father's work. Less than 24 hours after her arrival in L.A., however, Mariah's life gets much more complicated. The diplomat is found dead in his hot tub, shortly after he informs Mariah that rumors have surfaced that her father didn't succumb to hepatitis 30 years ago in Paris, as was believed, but was murdered. Worse, the manuscript that bears Bolt's name may actually be a samizdat novel by a Russian author who died about the same time as Mariah's father. The past keeps coming back to haunt Mariah, as the death count rises and old ghosts emerge. Fortunately, Mariah's old friend and CIA mentor, Frank Tucker, is protecting her flank as she battles former KGB operatives, Russian mobsters and their American allies. Smith's gloriously intricate plot is top-notch, and her writing, though breathy in spots, is that of a gifted storyteller. Mariah may be a familiar heroine--single mom, conflicted over professional and family issues--but she's also a sly operator with a sharp tongue, a keen wit and a well-honed sense of how to swim with the sharks. Author tour. (Sept.)
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