The Book of Spies

The Book of Spies

by Gayle Lynds
The Book of Spies

The Book of Spies

by Gayle Lynds

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Overview

For centuries, emperors, historians, and even the Vatican have tried to locate Ivan the Terrible's magnificent Library of Gold — a long-missing archive containing gold-covered, bejeweled books dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Now one of the volumes, The Book of Spies, has surfaced, and along with it the highly secret book club that owns the Library of Gold. They form a cabal of the globe's most powerful men – men who will do anything to achieve their aims and protect their interests. When the CIA discovers a connection between the legendary library and a bank account linked to terrorists, they turn to rare books curator Eva Blake for help. Soon an attempt is made on Eva's life. Determined not only to survive but to uncover the truth, Eva turns to the only person she can trust—Judd Ryder, a former intelligence agent with his own agenda and a troubled past. Together, Judd and Eva embark on an international adventure from London to Rome, Istanbul, and Athens. Somehow they must do what no one else has been able to do – find the library and stay alive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250122377
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/01/2016
Series: The Judd Ryder Books , #1
Pages: 544
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.21(d)

About the Author

Gayle Lynds is the bestselling, award-winning author of several international espionage thrillers, including Masquerade, The Coil, and The Last Spymaster. A member of the Association for Intelligence Officers, she is cofounder (with David Morrell) of ITW (International Thriller Writers).

Read an Excerpt

1

A library could be a dangerous place. The librarian scanned the ten men in tailored tuxedos who lounged around the long oval table in the center of the room. Encircling them were magnificent illuminated manuscripts, more than a thousand of them, blanketing the walls from fl oor to ceiling. Their spectacular gold-covered bindings faced out to showcase the fortune in gems decorating them.

The men were members of the book club that owned and operated the secret Library of Gold where the annual dinner was always held. The fi nale was the tournament, in which each member tested the librarian with a research question. As the books towered around them and the air vibrated with golden light, the men sipped their cognac. Their eyes watched the librarian.

“Trajan,” challenged the international lawyer from Los Angeles. “a.d. 53 to a.d. 117. Trajan was one of the most ambitious warrior-emperors of old Rome, but few people realize he also revered books. His supreme monument to his successes at war is called Trajan’s Column. He ordered it erected in the court between two galleries of Rome’s library—which he also built.”

The room seemed to hold its breath, waiting. The librarian’s fi ngers plucked at his tuxedo jacket. Nearly seventy years old, he was a tidy man with wrinkled features. His hair was thin, his glasses large, and his mouth set in a perpetual small smile.

The tension heightened as he mulled. “Of course,” he said at last. “Cassius Dio Cocceianus wrote about it.” He went to the shelves containing the eighty volumes of Cassius Dio’s history, Romaika, compiled in the second and third centuries and transcribed by a Byzantine calligrapher in the sixth century. “The story is here, in volume seventy-seven. Most of Cassius Dio’s work has been lost. Our library has the only complete set.”

As pleased laughter swept the exclusive group, the librarian laid the large volume into the arms of the challenger, who stroked the embedded opals and sapphires on its cover. Gazing appreciatively at the golden book, he stood it up beside his brandy glass. Eight other illuminated manuscripts stood beside eight other brandy glasses. Each was a testament to the librarian’s intimate knowledge of ancient and medieval literature and the priceless value of the library itself.

Now only the tenth member—the director himself—remained. He would pose the final question in the tournament.

The men helped themselves to more cognac. By design their yearly dinner was dazzling theater. Hours before the first martini was poured, ten wild ducks, freshly shot, had arrived by private jet from Johannesburg. The chefs were flown in from Paris, blindfolded of course. The seven-course meal was exquisite, including truffl ed sweetbreads with chestnuts. The alcohol was the best—tonight’s cognac was a Louis XIII de Rémy Martin, worth more than a thousand dollars a bottle in today’s market. All of the book club’s liquors had been laid down by those who had gone before, creating a cellar of indisputable quality.

The director cleared his throat, and everyone turned to look at him. He was American and had flown in from Paris earlier in the day. The room’s tenor changed, becoming somehow menacing.

The librarian pulled himself up, vigilant.

The director peered at him. “Salah al-Din, also known as Saladin.

a.d. 1137 or 1138 to a.d. 1193. General Saladin, a Kurdish Muslim, was famous for his espionage network. One night his enemy Richard the Lionheart went to sleep in his tent in Assyria, guarded on all sides by his En glish knights. They poured a track of white ash around the tent so wide, no one could cross it undetected. But when Richard awoke, a melon with a dagger buried deep inside had appeared beside his bed. The blade could just as easily have been stabbed into Richard’s heart. It was Saladin’s warning, left by one of his spies. The spy escaped without leaving a clue and was never caught.”

Again the eyes watched the librarian. With every word, he had tensed. The door behind him opened quietly. He glanced over his shoulder as Douglas Preston stepped into the room. Preston was head of library security, a tall, muscular man who was an expert in weapons and took his work seriously. He was not wearing a tuxedo, instead had on his usual black leather jacket and jeans. Strangely, he carried a bath towel.

With effort, the librarian kept his voice steady as he headed across the room to another bookshelf. “The story can be found in Baha al-Din’s Sirat Salah al- Din: The Life of Saladin—”

“Of course, you’re correct,” the director interrupted. “But I want another manuscript. Bring me The Book of Spies.”

The librarian stopped, his hands reaching for the volume. He turned. The men’s faces were outraged, unforgiving.

“How did you find out?” he whispered.

No one answered. The room was so silent he could hear the tread of crepe-soled shoes. Before he could turn again, Preston’s beach towel slapped around his skull, covering his eyes and mouth. There was a huge explosion of gunfire, and pain erupted in his head. As he fell, he realized the security chief had given him fair warning by using a technique of the later Assassins—the towel was to cover the entrance and exit wounds to control spraying blood and bone. The book club knew that.

Excerpted from the Book of Spies by Gayle H. Lynds.

Copyright © 2010 by the Gayle H. Lynds 2007 Revocable Trust.

Published in April 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Reading Group Guide

1. Eva Blake goes to prison for something she neither remembers nor believes she did. Even so, on her lawyer's advice she pleads guilty to get the best possible deal. If you were facing the same situation, what would you do?

2. What aspect of the book did you find most appealing? The characters? The exotic locales? The Library of Gold? The inside view of espionage? The clandestine history? The references to books and reading?

3. All of the details in The Book of Spies regarding modern espionage - particularly the CIA, its operations and methods - are meticulously researched. Which of the "spies" in the book did you find most convincing? Intriguing? Sympathetic? Do you think you could, or ever would, be a spy?

4. There is a scene in Italy that takes place in a hidden underground passage to the Cloaca Maxima - an ancient Roman sewer. What do you think it would be like to discover an ancient site in your basement? Where would you most like that basement to be?

5. The book club in this novel is a secret cabal of very rich, very powerful men with enormous hidden impact around the world. Do you believe that such groups exist or could exist? Could such a group remain hidden from the media and major governments?

6. The book opens with a quote - "In the abstruse world of espionage, it's not always easy to know when you are in on a secret." How did you think this quote related to the novel? What do you think it means and do you agree? Has that ever happened to you?

7. In The Book of Spies, there is a "black ops" unit called Catapult. What do you think about the CIA's use of seemingly legitimate groups and companies?

8. The Book of Spies tells us at least half of the officers and employees working for the CIA are "new hires" - not veterans but people who started after the 9/11 attacks. Why do you think that is and what do you think the effect, if any, has been on our national security?

9. At the center of the novel is a fabulous long-lost library. Are there any lost books - ancient or modern - you would particularly like to read? What do you think the effect to the world would be if such a collection of books was suddenly discovered? If you could find something long lost, what would it be?

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