cover image Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation

Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation

Robert Littell, . . Overlook, $25.95 (386pp) ISBN 978-1-58567-696-5

As in The Company (2002), a long and serious chronicle of the CIA, Littell provides plenty of inside intelligence info in his superb new thriller, but he adds a decidedly comic spin. A female CIA executive looks frighteningly like Fred Astaire, while a former top agent works as a PI out of a former pool parlor above a nondescript Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn. The detective's name seems to be Martin Odum, but "Fred Astaire" calls him Dante, and he also goes by Lincoln Dittmann, the name of a Civil War enthusiast whose cartons of memorabilia sit unopened in Martin's office. Is Martin Odum himself a "legend"—a fake identity dreamed up in the dark imagination of the CIA? Because he needs the work, Martin agrees to help an old Russian KGB agent find his Israeli daughter's husband and persuade the man to give her a "get"—a divorce decree required by religious law. The husband has been pretending he's Jewish to cover up his link to a Russian criminal called the Oligarkh. As the bodies of his friends and clients begin to pile up, Odum searches for answers about not only the missing husband but also himself. Wonderful writing and a great sense of fun make this another winner. Agent, Ed Victor . 150,000 first printing; 6-city author tour . (June)