In THE LAST SPYMASTER, Gayle Lynds' riveting suspense embedded with literary finesse eclipses thriller stars John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum at the peak of their form. Unlike Le Carre's exhaustive angst and Ludlum's lengthy detours into topics or causes that fascinated him, Gayle's economy of language makes her political point without wasting a word while engaging the readers' eyes, ears, nose and heart.
Sprinkled throughout are awesome examples of:
ALLITERATION--Dense forests flowed dark; as the dark night deepened toward dawn; footsteps echoing in the emptiness;
SIMILES--She seemed to shrink, grow calcified, as hard as a tombstone;
METAPHORS--Bolts of silver lightning speared the distant Alps;
IMAGERY--She found a slot in which to wedge the Jag; sunlight filtered down in strawlike rays;
and POETIC RHYTHMS--His family. But not his family. A charade, a farce, a travesty of the living and the dead. His eyes felt hollow.
Such literary devices are what writing groups and English professors can use as models of powerful literature, but if readers miss them, it is because they are stitched in seamlessly to Gayle's prose.
THE LAST SPYMASTER is a classic because no one element or technique stands out over another--the sum of the parts makes it one great read and Gayle's best work. She gives us superb storytelling at supersonic speed and sets the bar, not only for her own future novels but also for every other author in the thriller genre. In character development, for instance, individual idiosyncrasies that distinguish her previous heroines in `Masquerade' (Asperger's syndrome), `Mesmerized' (cellular memory), `Mosaic' (conversion disorder) and `The Coil' (a peacenik aversion to violence) make way for broader scope. This time she tackles the universal flaws of globalization within today's political framework in her portrayal of power brokers--whether greedy or altruistic--competing in the war on terrorism.
Jay Tice, one of the legendary chiefs of the CIA in the Cold War, is a turncoat. Convicted of selling secrets, he's languishing in the formidable Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex in Pennsylvania, when he suddenly disappears. His locked cell is empty. Current CIA Deputy Chief Lawrence Litchfield engages a top CIA hunter, Elaine Cunningham, to track him down. She's a woman with her own psychological baggage, but gifted in probing the psyches of her prey. As she zeroes in on Tice, she becomes his target, and discovers nothing is as it seems. Instead, she finds, in the clandestine world of black ops, there are illegal arms dealers, information traders and cover-ups far more dangerous to the free world than one man's treachery. She joins forces with Tice to hunt down the real traitor before terrorists take possession of a shipment of top-secret, cutting-edge technology that can destroy automated intelligence networks worldwide and throw the `infidels' into chaos.
Using her characters' perspectives and personal agendas, Gayle masterminds a maze of crossover subplots and merges them on the final ramp of "the last spymaster's" odyssey. Also weaving through the maze is a classic love tale between Tice and his former double agent from the East, Raina Manhardt. They are lovers who are sadly doomed yet deeply passionate without being sexually explicit. That's art. And in addition to compelling storytelling, the ultra `smart' inventions and security technologies Gayle introduces make Orwell's vision of the future seem primitive.
Against such a backdrop of global conspiracy, I looked for cynicism or disillusionment seeping into Gayle's writing, because the more we learn the more we see how much our governments lie to us. Instead, with a keen journalist's nose for truth, she relentlessly sniffs out the corruptive realities existing inside the covert catacombs of international intelligence, while keeping her eye on the ultimate sacrifices and dedication of those who serve to protect us.
As Gayle explains in a Question and Answer dialogue with readers, "Holding on to one's ideals while working for a better world is the most difficult personal challenge. Those who succeed against such odds are the stuff of quiet legend, occasionally receiving secret honors and awards, and living out their days without telling tales . . . They pay high prices personally, and they deserve our respect."
THE LAST SPYMASTER chronicles such hope in a `tour de force' that catapults Gayle Lynds to the top of the thriller genre. As a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Operatives, the Military Writers Society of America and co-founder/co-president of the International Thriller Writers, Inc., she can be proud of the brilliant work she has delivered to represent their high ideals of service.