Books by Robert Littell

Robert Littell has been elevated to espionage fictions upper echelons. His novels include The New York Times bestseller The Company, The Visiting Professor, The Defection of A.J. Lewinter, The Sisters, and Legends which won the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book


THE MAYAKOVSKY TAPES by Robert Littell
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 22, 2016

"Littell's mordent wit is perfectly suited to his melancholy tale, rich in dark imagery and razor-sharp dialogue."
From the reminiscences of four worldly women emerges a vivid portrait of the life and times of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Read full book review >
A NASTY PIECE OF WORK by Robert Littell
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 19, 2013

"Brainy when it needs to be, arch at every conceivable opportunity and good-natured withal. It's a pleasure to see Littell, who's always seemed kind of tightly wound, relax a bit and invite readers along for the ride."
And now for something completely flip, as ironic spymaster Littell (Young Philby, 2012, etc.) turns to the vicissitudes of domestic crime. Read full book review >
YOUNG PHILBY by Robert Littell
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 13, 2012

"A Cold-War spy novel for the top shelf."
A dizzying "what if" take on (in)famous British spy Kim Philby. Read full book review >
THE STALIN EPIGRAM by Robert Littell
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2009

"Firmly in the tradition of Orwell, Kafka and Koestler—and equally harrowing. "
Littell (Vicious Circle, 2006, etc.) adapts the unhappy story of iconic Russian poet Osip Mandelstam to deliver another of his chilling portraits of bureaucracy gone mad. Read full book review >
VICIOUS CIRCLE by Robert Littell
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Sept. 21, 2006

"Authoritative, sharply observed, remarkably evenhanded—neither side gets a free pass here—and, as usual, first-rate."
Suspenseful and serious thriller from Littell (Legends, 2005, etc.) depicts the Middle East as a place in which positions are depressingly circular, behavior remorselessly vicious. Read full book review >
Released: May 5, 2005

"Littell's sharp images, breathless chases and nasty double-crossers please as ever, but the splintered narrative suffers from a central identity crisis that blurs the focus and slows the pace."
Choppy thriller about a man who isn't sure he ever was. Read full book review >
THE COMPANY by Robert Littell
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 22, 2002

"Accurate? Only CIA operatives know. Fascinating? Surprising? Suspenseful? Yes, yes, yes."
Virtually a history of the US for the past fifty years as seen through the dark lens of the CIA. Read full book review >
FOR THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL by Shimon Peres
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 1998

Five long, only fitfully fruitful conversations between Israel's former prime minister who was the long-time rival to, ultimate collaborator with, and successor to the slain Yitzhak Rabin, and a Paris-based former Newsweek correspondent and novelist. Peres reveals a number of fascinating facts of which all but a handful of readers will have been unaware. For example, during Israel's War of Independence, the Israeli forces executed one of its members allegedly spying for the British, only to learn later that he was innocent. Like Henry Kissinger, Peres has his share of bon mots, such as saying of Yasir Arafat that —when it comes to facts, he prefers to be a sort of Chagall—things can float around.— At times, Peres's reflections are highly insightful, even profound, such as this on the Jews: —We—re a dissatisfied people, a people that makes demands on itself, a people that the only electricity it knows is high-tension—there is no low tension in Jewish energy.— Unfortunately, he also is sometimes prone, as his critics claim, to viewing both the past and present through rose-colored lenses; for example, he makes the dubious assertion that —when we left power [May 1996], the trust [between Israel and its partners in the peace process] was full. I think even today we enjoy a great deal of trust among the Arabs. Among the Palestinians." His impressions of world political leaders he has met are both replete with colorful anecdotes and often superficial. Peres and Littell's book also could have used better organization—their conversations sometimes seem rambling, flitting from topic to topic. Peres, of course, is still too close to his own very eventful life to provide real autobiographical perspective with critical depth. This book, entertaining and occasionally instructive as it is, underscores the need for a good biography of one of Israel's most important leaders. Read full book review >
WALKING BACK THE CAT by Robert Littell
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 20, 1997

An aging KGB agent and a seen-it-all Gulf War vet join forces to thwart a ring of freelance assassins in this quirky Cold War thriller. 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 people—and 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 tenderness- -a commodity even rarer in spy fiction than merited trust. (First printing of 50,000; $40,000 ad/promo) Read full book review >
THE VISITING PROFESSOR by Robert Littell
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1994

The sweetly inconsequential Americanization of an inoffensive Russian specialist in chaos theory. In order to take the pulse of political measure in the USSR, Lemuel Falk has been applying annually for 23 years for an exit visa. When he finally gets one, he decides (why not?) to accept it and takes up a visiting post at the Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Chaos-Related Studies in Backwater (pop. 1290), New York. His early adventures in this brave new world are seasoned with mild multicultural humor (Falk's bewilderment about the meaning of ``girl Friday,'' his dream that American streets are paved with Sony Walkmans, an academic debate in which Falk's opponents charge that he's nothing but a randomist masquerading as a chaoticist). When Littell hunkers down to a plot, it's a sendup of the spy gambits he's offered in An Agent in Place, The Once and Future Spy, etc. Falk's stand (actually a lie) alongside his inventive young lover Rain Morgan in protest against a local nuclear waste disposal plant brings him to the attention of a laconic Oriental visitor, an importunate Syrian student, a pair of Las Vegas persuaders, his former Russian mistress, and the ubiquitous feds—all of them convinced that his work on calculating pi to millions of decimal places has given him a key to the deciphering of all possible codes. On his days off—which seem to be numerous—Falk works, though not very convincingly, at cracking the case of a serial killer whose victims turn out to be anything but random. An international episode saddled with too much intrigue for its own good. Delicate stuff, all right, but lacking the resonance of Louis Jones's even more delicate Particles and Luck (1993). Read full book review >