cover image A Land of Mirrors

A Land of Mirrors

Alfred Coppel, Jr., Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $18.95 (345p) ISBN 978-0-15-147682-4

Repercussions of the cruel and desperate rivalry between the CIA and KGB dating back to the Berlin Wall crisis and Vietnam War give a kaleidoscopic focus to this gripping, intelligently plotted espionage novel. Returning from a summit in Moscow, the secretary of state dies in a plane crash. The president considers replacing him with retired CIA agent John Wells. That's when Wells's niece, a public defender in San Francisco, is awakened with the news that her daughter has been kidnapped in Rome. The caller, it turns out, is French journalist Jean Thierry, whom Megan Wells had married in Saigon during the war despite warnings that he was a manipulative KGB agent. Purported to have died in Cambodia in 1972, Thierry has resurfaced, not only because he has not forgiven the elder Wells's part in his actual fate in Southeast Asia, but because Thierry's KGB control has a reason to hate Wells too. Coppel ( Show Me a Hero ) opens with a melodramatically related kidnapping and ends with an equally melodramatic face-off between Wells and his KGB nemesis. Most of the narrative is tautly paced and credible, however, especially the flashbacks to earlier clandestine events whose legacy was sorrow and an understandable desire for revenge. (September)