cover image Extraordinary Powers

Extraordinary Powers

Joseph Finder. Ballantine Books, $22 (449pp) ISBN 978-0-345-38621-2

Although the plot creaks a bit, Finder's ( The Moscow Club ) pacing, wit and style make this thriller a standout. In a long manuscript delivered to a reporter, Boston patent lawyer and former CIA operative Ben Ellison tells of an adventure that started with the accidental death of his father-in-law, CIA director Harrison Sinclair. After his first wife was killed by the KGB, Ben had shunned his previous employer but when a retired CIA deputy chief approaches Ben with proof that Sinclair was murdered and circumstantial evidence that he had been involved in a huge gold scam with the KGB's last boss, Ben agrees to a plan to clear Sinclair's name. Ben, who already has an eidetic memory, discovers during a high-tech lie detector test that he can also read minds. He hides his new-found power but when his second wife Molly (nee Sinclair) is kidnapped and he himself is almost killed in a Back Bay shootout, Ben sets off lickety-split for Italy, Switzerland, France and Canada. The reunited Ben and Molly outfox unknown foes, uncover numerous secrets that lead to the Very Big secret and a satisfying twist of an ending. The phlegmatic (yet occasionally crazy) Ben is a fine narrative voice, a bit like a Louis Auchincloss character telling an Eric Ambler story. Perhaps because of the CIA's old-boy tradition, Molly doesn't quite ring true but few readers will mind in this whiz of a yarn. 100,000 first printing; 100,000 ad/promo. (Feb.)