The Coil

by Gayle Lynds

St. Martin's Press, April, 2004.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
ISBN: 0312301448

The Coil by Gayle Lynds Ex-CIA agent Liz Sansborough believes she has finally put her violent past behind her. The daughter of the infamous Cold War assassin, The Carnivore, Liz had to pick up the pieces of her life after she lost both her parents and her job, after her bosses found out who her father was. Now a psychology professor at UC Santa Barbara with a popular television show, Liz teaches her students about the psychology of violence. But when her cousin Sarah is kidnapped in Paris and Liz is nearly murdered during her daily jog, she realizes that safety is an illusion and that her past will never really be behind her. The blackmailer's price for Sarah's release is the files of The Carnivore, which someone is using to blackmail prominent and highly placed people. Liz doesn't know where her father's files are, but heads to Europe. She teams up with Simon Childs, an old family friend and MI-6 agent, to save Sarah. But Liz and Simon are up against The Coil, a shadowy organization whose aims are unknown, but whose power reaches into the very highest levels of many world governments.

A sequel to 1996's bestselling Masquerade, The Coil brings back appealing spy Liz Sansborough, a complex woman who was lied to by her own family and whose darkest fear is that she has what it takes to become as ruthless an assassin as her father was. This fear keeps her from picking up a weapon, even as the body count rises around her and she continues to try to rationalize her way out of the violence of the clandestine world she inhabits. Liz's struggles to take the moral high road nearly get her killed, but are believable and interesting, given her unique background. Once she comes to terms with who she is and what she's fighting for (the life of her cousin and her husband), she steps back into her old life with ease.

Personally chosen by legend Robert Ludlum to co-author three books with him, Gayle Lynds certainly knows her way around the espionage world. The Coil's labyrinthine plot moves at a blistering pace, and both the action scenes and the tradecraft are absolutely fascinating. Gayle Lynds has taken the classic Cold War spy novel and, with her own unique style, has updated it for a modern audience. The result is a tautly-written, intelligent and exhilarating thriller.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the March-April, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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