Sunday, May 21, 2006

Robert Littell won this year's Los Angeles Times Best Mystery/Thriller Award for LEGENDS, now out in paperback. It's a surprisingly comic romp through the halls of espionage, with a female CIA executive who looks like Fred Astaire and a former top agent working as a downscale private eye from an office over a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn. His 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. 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 divorce decree required by religious law. The husband has been pretending he's Jewish to cover up his link to a Russian criminal, and 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.