The Book of Spies


MY LIFE is full of good and supportive people, many of whom helped with the writing of this novel. I'm particularly grateful to my extraordinary agent, Lisa Erbach Vance, of the Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency; my world-class editor, Keith Kahla, executive editor at St. Martin's Press; and my multitalented assistant and business manager, Tara Stockton, who speaks four languages and trots the globe.

I often consulted with novelist Melodie Johnson Howe, who heroically read and wisely commented on large sections of the novel. Authors Kathleen Sharp and Josh Conviser were generous partners in brainstorming international crime. Former CIA officers Alan More and Robert Kresge, who is also a fellow author, were remarkable sources upon whom I could always count.

My children and their spouses and one of my stepchildren discussed the book with me and provided details about geography and locations I was unable to visit: Paul Stone and Katrina Baum, Julia Stone and Kari Timonen, and Deirdre Lynds. For those of you who have followed her story, my other stepdaughter, Katie Lynds, remains in a wonderful facility for the brain-damaged and is making good progress.

St. Martin's is my publishing home, and I love it there. Particular gratitude to Sally Richardson, Matthew Baldacci, Matthew Shear, Joan Higgins, John Murphy, Nancy Trypuc, Monica Katz, Brian Heller, John Karle, and Kathleen Conn.

Deborah Brown, bibliographer and research services librarian for Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., was of tremendous help looking into the fascinating story of the Library of Gold. Others to whom I'm indebted include Kathleen Antrim, Barbara Paul Blume, Steve and Liz Berry, Ray Briare, Lee Child, Julian Dean, David Dun, Emily Erikson and Joe Ligman, Yogiraj Gurunath, David Hewson, Bones Howe, Randi and Doug Kennedy, Bill McDonald, David and Donna Morrell, Naomi Parry, M. J. Rose, Elaine and George Russell, Jim Rollins, Greg Stephens, Tom Stone and Alexandra Leslie, Steve Trueblood, and Diane Vogt.

As you read this novel, you might enjoy knowing that several of the characters have the real names of readers who entered a contest on my website. Much to my delight, they sent in e-mail waivers allowing me to use their names in the book--whether for criminal or corpse or hero. No description is accurate, and certainly I won't tell you which ones are theirs. That's called suspense.

Thank you one and all.





As he walked to the Senate, a note was thrust into Julius Caesar's hand. His spies had done their job, giving him a list of conspirators and their plans to kill him. Unfortunately, Caesar was in a hurry and did not read it. An hour later, he was assassinated.

--translated from The Book of Spies

In the abstruse world of espionage, it's not always easy to know when you are in on a secret.

--Time magazine, January 9, 2006


A LIBRARY could be a dangerous place. The librarian scanned the ten men in tailored tuxedos who lounged around the long oval table in the center of the room. Encircling them were magnificent illuminated manuscripts, more than a thousand of them, blanketing the walls from floor to ceiling. Their spectacular gold-covered bindings faced out to showcase the fortune in gems decorating them.

The men were members of the book club that owned and operated the secret Library of Gold, where the annual dinner was always held. The finale was the tournament, in which each member tested the librarian with a research question. As the books towered around them and the air vibrated with golden light, the men sipped their cognac. Their eyes watched the librarian.

"Trajan," challenged the international lawyer from Los Angeles. "A.D. 53 to A.D. 117. Trajan was one of the most ambitious warrior-emperors of old Rome, but few people realize he also revered books. His supreme monument to his successes at war is called Trajan's Column. He ordered it erected in the court between two galleries of Rome's library--which he also built."

The room seemed to hold its breath, waiting. The librarian's fingers plucked at his tuxedo jacket. Nearly seventy years old, he was a tidy man with wrinkled features. His hair was thin, his glasses large, and his mouth set in a perpetual small smile.

The tension heightened as he mulled. "Of course," he said at last. "Cassius Dio Cocceianus wrote about it." He went to the shelves containing the eighty volumes of Cassius Dio's history, Romaika, compiled in the second and third centuries and transcribed by a Byzantine calligrapher in the sixth century. "The story is here, in volume seventy-seven. Most of Cassius Dio's work has been lost.