SHORTLY AFTER WRITING Loose Lips, I began corresponding with the Lion. Within days of our first exchange of emails, I was fascinated. Within months, I was obsessed. I then discovered that the Lion was not who I imagined him to be. The story that follows is my attempt to reconstruct, to my own satisfaction, how I — an intelligent, well-educated, professional woman in my thirties — fell so desperately in love with a man I knew only through an epistolary exchange….
With Claire Berlinski’s marvelous debut novel,Loose Lips — a perfect blend of satire, romance, and suspense featuring a young female CIA operative — book critic Frank Bascombe observed: “It’s more than a little obvious that [protagonist] Selena Keller is Claire Berlinski.” Despite her denials to the contrary, Berlinski isn’t above poking fun at that myth in her hilarious and intriguing new novel, Lion Eyes.
In Paris, a fictional Claire — the expatriate author of a novel about love among young CIA trainees — is unsuccessfully dodging a deadly heat wave and her even deadlier ex-boyfriend. When she receives an email from an admirer in Iran who wonders how to obtain a copy of Loose Lips in his native city in Iran, she wastes no time in replying. Her correspondence with the mysterious stranger, whose name means “The Lion” in Persian, quickly becomes personal. Then intimate. Then obsessive.
As Claire heads to Istanbul to find shade, her electronic flirtation begins, inevitably, to consume her. The boundary between reality and her imagination begins to blur and then melt. The Lion, meanwhile, nurtures his own powerful fantasies about the author. To satisfy their growing passion, they agree to meet, in Paris, but Claire soon learns that someone is secretly intercepting their communications.
Suddenly, Claire’s romantic dreams dissolve in the face of reality. Nothing is as it seems. The Lion is not who she thinks. Events take an unimagined, even dangerous, turn where life imitates art — and art imitates life.
Clever and witty, Lion Eyes has all the makings of a great story — intriguing characters, exotic locales, snappy double-entendres, clever spy games, and the forbidden pleasure of reading other people’s mail. Claire Berlinski expertly plots out chance and chase, love and lies, and brings it all together with intelligence, counter-intelligence, and a dossier full of humor.
Read reviews of Lion Eyes.