Central Europe provides the locale for Rules of Deception, California novelist Christopher Reich's new spy novel.

You were born in Tokyo and have lived in Switzerland. In what way do you think your experiences abroad have affected your writing?

I've always loved the “buzz” away from home, a stranger in a foreign land. There's a sense of abandonment, of wonder and of fear at being in a new or exotic locale. It's somehow more exciting for a hero to be running for his life through the cobblestone alleys of Zurich or the wide boulevards of Paris than through downtown San Diego.

You state on your Web site that “everything I learned about writing, I got from le Carré.”

Le Carré taught me that character drives plot. He demonstrates an empathy for his heroes, flawed as they are, that I strive to achieve. In Rules of Deception, the hero, Dr. Jonathan Ransom, discovers that his wife has been lying to him about her identity for years. He's a prideful man and absolutely certain that she truly loved him. It's this pride that makes him stop at nothing to discover if his life really has been a sham or if there's another secret out there waiting to ambush him. With Jonathan, it's all or nothing.

The story line of Rules of Deception is full of bombshell plot twists. How difficult was it to construct a novel this intricate?

Very difficult and very fun. I set myself the challenge of ramping up the suspense from page one. In the book, there are three plot lines running simultaneously—one a murder, one a disappearance, and the other an attempt to bring down an airliner. Of course, they're all related to one another. I felt as if I had several trails of gunpowder burning across my desk, and I had to make sure that they all reached the keg of dynamite at the same time.

In what way do you see spy thrillers evolving to remain relevant in the 21st century?

The geopolitical stakes are higher today than they've ever been. There are more weapons and more truly evil people out there eager to use them. That makes the world a much more dangerous place than it was even 20 years ago. Every government on the globe is beefing up its espionage capabilities. Added to that is the fact that today anyone can be a spy. All you need is a cellphone, a camera and access to the Net. The way I see it, the spy thriller will rule in the 21st century.