book cover of Ilium
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Ilium

(2024)
A novel by

 
 
Set in the dark world of international espionage, from London to Mallorca, Croatia, Paris, and Cap Ferret: the gripping and suspenseful story of a young woman who unwittingly becomes a perfect asset in the long overdue finale of a covert special op

The young English narrator of Lea Carpenter’s dazzling new novel has grown up unhappily in London, dreaming of escape, pretending to be someone else and obsessed with a locked private garden. On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, at a party near that garden, she meets its charismatic and mysterious new owner, Marcus, thirty-three years older, who sweeps her off her feet. Before long they are married at his finca in Mallorca, and at last she has escaped into a new role – but at what price? On their honeymoon in Croatia, Marcus reveals there is something she can do for him—a plan is in place and she can help with “a favor.”

This turns out to be posing as an art advisor to a family on Cap Ferret, where Marcus asks her to simply “listen.” A helicopter deposits her at a remote, highly guarded and lavishly appointed compound on a spit of land in the Atlantic. It’s presided over by an enigmatic, charming patriarch Edouard, along with his wife Dasha, children Nikki and Felix, and populated by a revolving cast of other guests—some suspicious, some intriguing, perhaps none, like her, what they seem.

Brilliantly compelling, this is a spellbinding and unexpectedly poignant story of a long- planned, high-stakes CIA-Mossad operation that only needed the right asset to complete.

Genre: Thriller

Praise for this book

"Ilium goes well beyond offering an exciting take on espionage literature. Lea Carpenter has built an entirely new wing onto the genre. Intricate, propulsive, rendered with deft emotion, this female-centric spy story has a deeply human heart." - Christopher Bollen

"A spellbinding espionage novel. Carpenter's nuanced understanding of character and identity raises profound questions about love, loss, and the reality of war. Ilium is both mesmerizing and sublime." - Clémence Michallon

"Here is the beating heart of a great espionage novel: devious manipulations and moral ambiguity within intimate relationships, with life-or-death consequences. Ilium delivers it all, plus glamorous international settings, complex characters, and sparkling prose. A tremendously satisfying read." - Chris Pavone

"Spellbindingly-plotted and told in frank, elegant prose, Ilium is a beautiful book about love and war and innocence lost. Carpenter's depiction of espionage is captivating, while the questions the novel surfaces about identity are perfectly devastating." - Lisa Taddeo

"Sharp and riveting, Ilium is a literary novel that reads like a psychological thriller. As a masterful and beguiling storyteller, Lea Carpenter is the perfect guide for this journey to a secret place of intrigue and betrayals." - Yiyun Li


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