cover image Lion Eyes

Lion Eyes

Claire Berlinski, . . Ballantine, $23.95 (235pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6295-9

Narrated with verve and élan, Berlinski's sly second thriller flirts more with romance than danger. During the hot summer of 2003, a Paris-based American novelist named Claire Berlinksi gets into an online affair with a Persian archeologist who may be a spy. According to the preface, something similar happened to the author. Arsalan (aka "the Lion"), who lives in Isfahan, Iran, admires the real author's debut about a female CIA trainee, Loose Lips (2003), and is sure Claire has actual CIA ties. At Arsalan's suggestion, Claire swaps apartments with a colleague of his in Istanbul, Turkey. There Claire meets a cheerful if less than competent CIA agent, Sally, who asks her help in getting to Arsalan. Claire and the zany supporting cast make this tale of thwarted intimacy—as overseen by the gimlet eye of the World Wide Web (and CIA)—an entertaining example of what Claire calls the tantalizing "intersection between what you write and the truth." Keen social commentary on Paris and Istanbul adds to the fun. Berlinski is also the author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too . (Jan.)