cover image THE COIL


Gayle Lynds, . . St. Martin's, $24.95 (442pp) ISBN 978-0-312-30144-6

The daughter of an infamous Cold War assassin known as the Carnivore is yanked from her tranquil life as a UC–Santa Barbara psychology professor by an international conspiracy in this competent thriller. When ex-CIA agent Liz Sansborough, making her second outing for Lynds (after 1996's Masquerade ), is viciously attacked while taking a bike ride, she quickly discovers that her troubled past is impossible to escape. She also learns that her cousin has been kidnapped on her Paris vacation, and that the kidnappers are demanding the Carnivore's long-lost files, thought to contain the details of dozens of high-profile hits, for ransom. Liz isn't eager to go back to work for her old boss, but she quickly readapts to her former profession. As the bodies pile up, however, she finds herself making little progress: she can't find her cousin, and she doesn't even know if her father's files exist. When she teams up with Simon Childs, an old family friend and British MI6 undercover agent, the two forge ahead in a death-defying charge through France and England, their sights set on a mysterious group of corporate titans known as the Coil. The novel moves at a blistering pace, much in the tradition of espionage legend Robert Ludlum, with whom Lynds co-wrote three novels. Liz has appeal—a wry sense of humor and infectious enthusiasm—yet she sometimes suffers from a case of political correctness; readers may find her preachy opinions grating. Her refusal to carry a gun, for example, is an admirable decision for everyday life, but absurd considering the gallons of blood flowing around her. Agent, Henry Morrison. Regional author tour . (Apr.)