cover image Legends


Robert Littell, , read by Grover Gardner. . Audio Partners, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57270-485-5

Littell's witty and suspenseful tale reads like a conglomeration of John le Carré's cynical spy vs. spy elements and Ross Thomas's whimsical and darkly humorous insider's view of international politics. It takes an agile narrator to adjust to the rapidly changing moods. Making the job even more daunting is a protagonist suffering from multiple personality disorder who can shift from wry, laid-back ex–secret agent–turned–private detective Martin Odum to ebullient Irish dynamiter Dante Pippin almost within the same sentence. Gardner, with nearly 500 audiobooks to his credit, handles the job smoothly and effortlessly. He also provides a polyglot panoply of credible accents, including Russian, Irish, Israeli, Palestinian and Asian. The complex and multilayered plot finds Odum hired to locate the husband of an Israeli woman to persuade him to agree to a divorce. He soon discovers that the globe-hopping search is taking him to people and places from his own perilous days in the spy game. This is particularly true when he slips back into past "legends," personas concocted for him by his CIA superiors. In dealing with the novel's character changes, flashbacks, misdirection and surprising revelations, clarity seems to be Gardner's main goal and he achieves it admirably, all the way to the satisfying finale. Simultaneous release with the Overlook hardcover (Reviews, May 23). (Aug.)