Cover image of "Extraordinary Powers," a standout among espionage thrillers

Ben Ellison is a Boston patent lawyer who is a former CIA agent who had lost his first wife to an explosion engineered by the KGB. He possesses an eidetic memory and, after an unusually powerful MRI, the ability to read minds — and, yes, through his second wife, he is now the son-in-law of the former director of the CIA . . . who is “accidentally” murdered, triggering Ellison’s return to the espionage game. If you’re a fan of espionage thrillers and you can get past this collection of highly unlikely circumstances that constitute the novel’s premise, you’ll love Joseph Finder‘s Extraordinary Powers.

Once you swallow your qualms and suspend disbelief, you’re likely to be swept along at warp-speed in a danger-filled chase for the truth through Italy, Switzerland, France, and Canada, as Ellison and his second wife, Molly, bit by bit uncover one of the most audacious capers in history. The tale is full of shock and awe, unexpected twists and turns, and a shattering climax. It’s standard thriller fare but extremely well executed. Suspense? Yes, in spades.

For my money — and I’ve certainly spent enough of it on his books — Joseph Finder is one of the best of the many thriller writers active today. Suspicion, Buried Secrets, High Crimes, and The Zero Hour (all reviewed here) are all tightly plotted, firmly grounded in contemporary reality, and suspenseful to the last drop. I felt the same about several other Finder novels I had read before I began this blog. (In my more recent reading, I was disappointed only in Vanished and The Moscow Club.) Extraordinary Powers is one of the man’s best, a standout among espionage thrillers.

Extraordinary Powers by Joseph Finder (1994) ★★★★☆

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