Review

The Book of Spies

by Gayle Lynds

It would be incorrect to say that Gayle Lynds is back. While it
has been some time since THE LAST SPYMASTER first graced
bookshelves, Lynds has been working with the International Thriller
Writers Organization (which she conceptualized), participating on
panels at writers’ workshops to show potential authors how
the job is properly done, and writing. Always writing. The result
is THE BOOK OF SPIES, a combination of history, spy craft and grand
concept that takes readers by the hand for a literary romp that is
instructional, hair-raising, and most of all, entertaining.

The Book of Spies is but one volume contained in the
legendary Library of Gold, a priceless collection of books compiled
by Ivan the Terrible and lost for hundreds of years. In fact, a
small and secretive group known as the Book Club controls the
Library, which also appears to be linked to an international bank
account with ties to Islamic terrorism. When The Book of
Spies
is stolen from the Library, the group attempts to
retrieve it. Meanwhile, a shadowy CIA counterintelligence unit
known as Catapult is drawn into the chase due to the Club’s
jihadist connection. The two people charged with tracking the
volume --- in the hope that it will lead them to the Book Club ---
are drawn together by tragedy.

Eva Blake is a world-renowned expert on the subject of ancient
documents whose career is abruptly cut short when she is sentenced
to prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of her husband,
who is also highly regarded in the field. Judd Ryder is the son of
a pharmaceutical CEO who may or may not have been involved with the
Book Club and who was assassinated just as he was about to reveal
the secrets of the Library of Gold and its jihadist ties to Tucker
Andersen, his lifelong friend who is also second-in-command at
Catapult. Ryder, an expert in military counterintelligence, joins
Blake, who is released from prison at the request of Catapult, to
follow the minions of the Book Club as they pursue The Book of
Spies
, hoping the trail will lead back to the Library and the
terrorist plot that appears to be coming to fruition. The trail
leads from New York to Rome, then from Istanbul to Athens and
beyond.

The goal would be worth pursuing in and of itself, but
it’s the journey that’s the star of THE BOOK OF SPIES.
Lynds begins dropping historical nuggets within the first few
paragraphs and does not stop until literally the final paragraph,
saving one of the best for last. This is not, however, a book that
relies solely on historical events to propel current ones. Lynds
also begins dropping bombshells on the reader within the first
fifth or so of the novel and keeps them coming, even as she makes a
complex plot simple and compelling to follow. By the time one
reaches the end, one feels both exhausted by the adrenalin drain
and satiated in a way that only the best thrillers can provide.

The wait for THE BOOK OF SPIES was a long one but worth every
minute. Fans of history, thrillers, and most of all, Lynds will
hail this one a classic. Strongly recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 11, 2011

The Book of Spies
by Gayle Lynds

  • Publication Date: March 30, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312380895
  • ISBN-13: 9780312380892