Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a...

Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy, Viktor Suvorov (Macmillan). The author "has an instinctive feel for the dynamics of power, privilege and fear. His descriptions of cliques . . . or of the almost capitalist competition between the GRU (the Soviet's military intelligence organization) and the KGB are incisive, without being particularly analytical" (Andrew Nagorski).

A Perfect Spy, John le Carre (Knopf). "The masterly welding of an intricate page-turning spy thriller with the infinitely complex exploration of time and a man's memory. . . . Easily John le Carre's best book, and, I believe, one of the enduring peaks of imaginative literature of our time" (Morton Kamins).

The New Girlfriend and Other Stories, Ruth Rendell (Pantheon). "There is a general rule in Rendell fiction: Nothing is what it seems." In all 11 of these convincing and absorbing short mystery stories, "hidden agendas abound, the innocent are quickly suborned or taken in, ironic surprises await those with guilty knowledge" (Shelly Lowenkopf).

Shallow Graves: Two Women and Vietnam, Wendy Wilder Larsen and Tran Thi Nga (Random House), "is the story of two complementary displacements that, taken together, record an avalanche of history." Through unadorned but graceful verse, Wendy Wilder Larsen conveys her own despairing sense of being the outsider in Vietnam, while Tran Thi Nga tells her own "long and astonishing voyage from a sheltered, mandarinlike childhood to the ghostless chill of an American suburb" (Richard Eder).

Rain or Shine, Cyra McFadden (Knopf), "is a supremely tense, thin, strong, little book . . . about how America builds families, destroys them, builds them again . . . as thrilling and resonant as 'The Great Gatsby' " (Carolyn See).

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