"The Last Spymaster"
(Reviewed by Ann Wilkes MAR 26, 2007)
Instantly she was struck by the musky aroma of a burning cigar. Adrenaline shot to her brain. She slid low into the dark, silently pulling the door closed. The cigar's orange coal glowed from across her living room, from an ashtray beside her armchair. A silhouette sat in deep shadow in the chair, a pistol pointed at her.
"Don't turn on the light." It was a man's voice, from the chair.
Making no sound, she laid her purse on the carpet. Walther in hand, she crept swiftly behind her sofa and along the wall. Her chest taut with tension, she rose up behind her love seat and leveled her gun. The silhouette's pistol was still aimed at the small entryway. He had not guessed.
As the smoke of the cigar spiraled, she ordered grimly, "Lay your weapon on the table. If you don't, I'll shoot--and at this short distance, I won't miss."
Behind her, she heard the faint sound of a pistol being cocked. But before she could move, the same man's voice said, "I thought you might be suspicious…My friends call me Jay."…
On top [of the dummy] was her bulbous glass vase, the size of an adult's head, turned upside down. Black electrician's tape held a SIG Sauer to the chair's arm, aimed at the door. On the table beside the smoldering cigar lay a miniature recorder-player…He must have prerecorded "Don't turn on the light" and used a remote…But what showed the supremacy of his tradecraft was the cigar. Its glowing orange coal drew the eye and subtly guaranteed that the shadowy figure was a living, breathing person.
In The Last Spymaster, the CIA's greatest spymaster, Charles Jay Tice, after a successful career that results in the position of Deputy Director of Operations, has landed in jail as a traitor for working on both sides of the fence. True spying is becoming a dying art as agencies rely more and more on spy tech to do the work for them. But when Tice escapes from Allenwood, right under the guards' noses, the CIA must hire their best hunter.
Elaine Cunningham's file was flagged with the CIA's version of "doesn't play well with others." She had been relegated to a cubicle. But she is the crafty lone wolf that they need to find Tice. The agency has forty-eight hours to locate him before the FBI makes their embarrassment public.
Elaine meets the cell she's assigned to, gets information on Tice and then heads to the penitentiary for leads. When she returns, an attempt is made on her life and she finds the entire cell has been slaughtered in their not-so-safe house. She suspects Tice.
Meanwhile, a terrorist group is buying a huge quantity of spy technology from the US. And they have inside help--inside the Agency. Faced with a common enemy, Jay and Elaine must form a temporary alliance to stay alive. And they have to stop that shipment before it ends up in terrorist hands.
The Last Spymaster is filled with intricate layers of intrigue that are at once tantalizing and easily followed. In this world of spies, spymasters, secrets, lies and loyalties, there is no black and white and things aren't always what they seem. The shades of gray and shifting loyalties make this novel stand out.
Lynds presents believable and interesting spycraft as Elaine is tutored by the man she's been hired to bring in. Hang on for a wild ride that will keep you guessing to the end.
- Amazon readers rating: from 57 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Last Spymaster at author's website
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
Robert Ludlum's Covert-One Series:
New Spy Series:
- The Book of Spies (March 2010)
- The Spy's Apprentice
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- Official website for Gayle Lynds
- Wikipedia page for Gayle Lynds
- Huffington Post blog post by Gayle Lynds
- Shots Magazine interview
- Curled Up review of The Altman Code
- Mystery Reader reviews of Mesmerized
- January Magazine review of The Coil
- BookReporter.com review of The Last Spymaster
- MostlyFiction.com review of The Book of Spies
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About the Author:
Gayle Lynds was born in Nebraska and raised in Iowa. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism.
Lynds began her writing career as a reporter for the Arizona Republic, where her investigative reporting made such an impact that it led to changes in state legislation. Later, she was an editor with Top Secret security clearance at a government think tank.
But she left the world of top secrets to be a stay at home mom for ten years. She was the mother of two small children, when she faced divorced and a very difficult situation. After being unemployed for a decade, she did not know she was going to feed her children, until a friend asked her if should could write pulp fiction for men. Thus, her fiction career began with literary short stories published under her own name and several pulp fiction novels under male pseudonyms. She also wrote three mystery novels for boys in The Three Investigators series. After her first novel was published, Ludlum approached her to help write the Covert-One series. In 2004, she co-founded and was elected co-president (with David Morrell) of International Thriller Writers, Inc.She was married to fellow novelist Dennis Lynds, who died in August 2005. Together they have four children. She now lives in southern California.