US Paperback Edition
"...he witnesses his wife's final, terrifying moments..."
In London, Rome, and Paris--world capitals of art, glamour, and intrigue--the fundamental equations of money and power never change. What is about to change is the life of one haunted ex-spy who has not quite come in from the cold.
Behind Harry Strand is a career in American intelligence that he wants to forget and a wife, killed in an automobile accident, he can't stop mourning. Harry is an art dealer, the profession that he used as his cover during his years of spying.
Then Mara Song enters his life, sharing the lap pool of an exclusive club where Harry swims alone every morning. For weeks they swim together, day after day, never speaking, never meeting, until she disappears. A month later Mara walks into his office with a business proposition: help her sell an extraordinary portfolio of drawings by modern masters. Harry can't resist the art...or the woman.
One night in Rome Harry walks into Mara's home and finds her television is on, a videocassette visible in the VCR slot. When he pushes it in, he sees a nighttime surveillance tape--and with heart-wrenching horror, he witnesses his wife's final, terrifying moments before her death.
The cold war may be over, but Harry's war has just begun.
"...images that came to me over the course of several months and wouldn't go away..."
The story of Harry Strand and Mara Song is one of those novels that began with a series of unrelated images that came to me over the course of several months and haunted me: a woman swimming alone in a pool, her long dark hair streaming along behind her; two men engaged in a hushed conversation as they stroll together through the shafts of sunlight falling from the high windows of a gloomy cathedral; a death in a foggy, rainy street in Mayfair, London.
I had no idea how these images were related, but I knew they were part of the fabric of the same story. Unable to get these scenes out of my mind, I began writing with the same curiosity about the characters and the story as a reader might have when starting a new novel. Beginning a novel in this way is one of the greatest pleasures of the craft of writing.
The creative process has always been indecipherable. There are no rules to guide you, and surprise and confusion are inevitable. But over the years I've found that the wandering mind is one of the writer's most essential assets. Curiosity and daydreams are the wellsprings of possibility. Many of the writer's daydreams remain only daydreams. But a few of them--like the ones above--become novels.