Skip to main content

Liars & Thieves


Liars & Thieves

Stephen Coonts has for several years been busily shouldering his
way to the front of the pack of military thriller writers.
Seemingly incapable of writing badly, he demonstrates a familiar
acquaintance with the geewhiz technological side of the genre while
choosing to focus primarily on the personalities between the
machinery. Coonts has been most successful with his novels that
feature Admiral Jake Grafton. Many of Coonts's longtime readers,
however, have clamored for a book featuring Tommy Carmellini, the
burglar turned CIA operative who has been one of Coonts's more
interesting creations. The readers get their wish --- and then some
--- with LIARS & THIEVES.

LIARS & THIEVES is played out against a backdrop that combines
the vestiges of the Cold War with a contemporary political
convention. Carmellini is assigned to a tour of guard duty at a CIA
safe house where U.S. government operatives are debriefing a KGB
archivist who has defected to the United States and who has had
access to --- and copies of --- records of every intelligence
operation that the KGB ever ran. When Carmellini arrives on-site,
however, he stumbles into a commando attack --- undertaken by
American operatives --- that appears to have left everyone dead,
save for an attractive American translator. Carmellini escapes with
her, but soon finds that the translator has an agenda all her

One other person, however, has also escaped the safe house carnage:
it is the archivist, who is suffering from traumatic amnesia.
Carmellini suddenly finds himself blamed for the carnage and is
potentially in the scope of virtually every law enforcement officer
in the country. He must rely on his wits, street smarts and
contacts on both sides of the law to determine what was behind the
attack on the safe house and to escape intact from the mysterious
forces that are pursuing him.

Carmellini turns to his mentor and friend, Jake Grafton, for help.
Carmellini and Grafton gradually come to learn that the archivist
has information regarding a KGB operation that involved the use of
an individual who is now in the highest levels of the United States
government, an individual with the power, and the desire, to stop
the information of his traitorous activities from ever being
revealed. The pursuit of Carmellini and the archivist leads from
West Virginia through the mean backstreets of Washington, D.C., all
the way to a political convention held in New York City where
Carmellini plays a dangerous game that involves discovering the
identity of his pursuer while trying desperately to stay

LIARS & THIEVES has little of the military derring-do of
Coonts's previous works; readers who have not previously treated
themselves to a Coonts thriller should definitely pick up this one,
which is closer to James Bond than Jack Ryan in spirit. Coonts
continues his practice of using "real world" situations as a basis
for his plots, using The Venona Papers and the political
aspirations of presidential spouses as plot devices, and it's great
fun to figure out who is who in Coonts's fictitious world. If
Coonts is intending to pass the torch from Grafton to Carmellini,
LIARS & THIEVES bodes extremely well for Coonts's future


Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 30, 2010

Liars & Thieves
by Stephen Coonts

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312283628
  • ISBN-13: 9780312283629