Walking Back the Catby Robert Littell
Littell plunges the reader behind the headlines and into a mesmerizing post-cold war world where reactivated KGB agents, CIA operatives and Apaches combine forces to unravel a double-cross, retracing the operation to find the source of the deception - in espionage lingo, walking back the cat. A Soviet-era KGB agent code-named Parsifal lives under deep cover in a small… See more details below
Littell plunges the reader behind the headlines and into a mesmerizing post-cold war world where reactivated KGB agents, CIA operatives and Apaches combine forces to unravel a double-cross, retracing the operation to find the source of the deception - in espionage lingo, walking back the cat. A Soviet-era KGB agent code-named Parsifal lives under deep cover in a small town in New Mexico, adjacent to a Apache reservation. A specialist in what the KGB describes as "wetwork" and the rest of the world calls murder, Parsifal discovers, after years of dormancy, that he has a new "Resident" - and he is given assassination orders that lead him to the nearby Apache-run casino. Meanwhile Finn, a disillusioned Gulf War vet who has come to New Mexico for some R & R gets drawn into the web when he discovers that someone is shaking down the casino.
Finn, a balloonist on the fly from the consequences of a bar brawl in Seattle, sets down on the tiny Suma Apache reservation in New Mexico to find that the locals' casino has been paying serious protection money to the Mafia. Finn also finds himself falling in love with the elderly headman's young wife, Shenandoah. While he's trying to overcome her resistance, he resolves to do what he can to help her peopleand that means getting their Sicilian partners off their backs. But the shakedown artists aren't the Mafia after all, as Finn learns when his appointment to brief an FBI agent on the deaths of earlier Suma complainants almost leads to his getting killed himself. Instead, as Finn works it out with the help of Parsifal, the false defector who's actually a KGB agent sent to assassinate him, Parsifal himself has executed them all at the behest of the higher-ups who reactivated him four years after glasnost buried his deep-cover placement even deeper. But why does the KGB want to milk a lowly Apache casino and kill those who make a stink about the profit-sharing? The beautifully simple answer is that they don't: Sometime between the fall of the USSR and the raising of the casino, rogue operatives tapped into Parsifal's chain of command, and they're now running him as a wetwork specialist who thinks his jobs are being authorized by Mother Russia. So instead of killing Finn, Parsifal uses his help to puzzle out what went wrong, and at whose instance.
Even though the answers aren't as elegant or original as the questions, Littell (The Visiting Professor, 1994, etc.) delivers the goods with understated ingenuity and his hallmark tendernessa commodity even rarer in spy fiction than merited trust.
- Overlook Press, The
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 9.36(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.87(d)
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Meet the Author
Robert Littell was born, raised, and educated in New York. A former Newsweek editor specializing in Soviet affairs, he left journalism in 1970 to write fiction full time. Connoisseurs of the spy novel have elevated Robert Littell to the genre's highest ranks, and Tom Clancy wrote that “if Robert Littell didn’t invent the spy novel, he should have.” He is the author of fifteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Company and Legends, the 2005 L.A. Times Book Award for Best Thriller/Mystery. He currently lives in France.
- Martel, France
- Date of Birth:
- January 8, 1935
- Place of Birth:
- Brooklyn, New York
- B.A., Alfred University, 1956
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Littell ranks with LeCarre and McCarry as someone who writes like they've been there. This is a great book that mixes the thrills of espionage with the realities of life.