THE SISTERS by Robert Littell


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Here, Littell abandons the straightforward storytelling of The Amateur for superclever, Condonesque plotting: all for entertainment, at the cost of the flavorsome human feelings that made his The October Circle such a worthwhile read. The Sisters of the title are a pair of gay CIA think-tankers, Francis and Carroll, who dream of committing the perfect crime. But it's no crime to reveal here that the plot they come up with--supposedly meant to embarrass the Russians--is actually a Russian plot foisted upon the CIA in the form of a plot being foisted on the KGB. It all devolves upon the hideous day in Dallas, the grassy knoll and second assassin, and the death of America's ""Prince of the Realm."" Francis and Carroll organize the defection of Feliks Turov, known as the Potter bemuse he likes to make pots. The Potter, on the pier of old age, has spent his KGB career as the head of the sleeper school. He trains agents to go to ground in emeny countries and then wait years--while getting in place--for the awakening word which will send them into action as assassins. He has sent his beloved Piotr Borisovich (known as the Sleeper) to the States. But now the Potter has been forcibly retired from his job (because of a ruse by Francis and Carroll), deprivileged and humiliated, and he is sucked in by the phony defection offer from the Sisters. Also, he has to keep his young, materialistic, Paris-loving wife Svetochka happy. The Sisters want to activate the Sleeper into eventually being arrested for killing Kennedy, with the blame falling on the KGB, not on the Director (though all this is cryptofoggery). Meanwhile, the Sisters are also moving Khanda (Lee Oswald) from Cuba to Dallas as backup to the Sleeper, while the Potter races about the Southwest to save Piotr. Best in its opening chapters, giving a fairly dense experience of Russian life and the wonderfully daffy Svetochka (who is, alas, shoved down an elevator shaft). But haywire plotting is just haywire, and burning up all your characters is the kind of big fun one admires only if dead drunk.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0143038214
Publisher: Bantam