With the release of Masquerade in 1996 Gayle Lynds joined the deified ranks of spy thriller authors like Robert Ludlum and John le CarrŽ. That novel was a paranoid tour de force about a CIA agent, Liz Sansborough, hunting (and being hunted by) a notorious Cold War assassin called the Carnivore, who happens to be her father. The response to the stand-alone novel was so overwhelming (Lynds says readers "asked, begged and demanded" that she bring the main characters back) that Lynds was compelled to write a sequel. The Coil finds Sansborough far removed from her former life as a CIA operative; she is contentedly teaching a course in the psychology of violence at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But her father's legacy continues to plague her, even from the grave. Someone has unearthed the Carnivore's secret files (who hired him, how much they paid, who was killed, etc.) and is blackmailing prominent international business and political figures to further a shadowy agenda. Sansborough becomes a target as well; when her cousin is kidnapped in Paris, Sansborough must somehow find the files before more innocents die.

With breakneck pacing, generous helpings of suspense and intrigue, and a plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, Lynds' novel has all the ingredients of a terrific thriller. As Sansborough desperately searches for the Carnivore's files while trying to elude the CIA, French police and an army of assassins, she makes James Bond look like a Boy Scout learning how to tie knots. Brutally violent, delectably complicated and masterfully researched, The Coil is a spy thriller of the highest order whose mind-blowing conclusion will leave readers slack-jawed in amazement and have them salivating for more.

Paul Goat Allen is a freelance editor and writer in Syarcuse, New York.

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