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The Touristby Olen Steinhauer
Synopses & Reviews
Milo Weaver used to be a "tourist" for the CIA — an undercover agent with no home, no identity — but he's since retired from the field to become a middle-level manager at the CIA's New York headquarters. He's acquired a wife, a daughter, and a brownstone in Brooklyn, and he's tried to leave his old life of secrets and lies behind. However, when the arrest of a long-sought-after assassin sets off an investigation into one of Milo's oldest colleagues and exposes new layers of intrigue in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out who's holding the strings once and for all.
In The Tourist, Olen Steinhauer — twice nominated for an Edgar Award — tackles an intricate story of betrayal and manipulation, loyalty and risk in an utterly compelling novel that is both thoroughly modern and yet also reminiscent of the espionage genre's luminaries: Len Deighton, Graham Greene, and John le Carré.
"Edgar-finalist Steinhauer takes a break from his crime series set in an unnamed Eastern European country under Communist rule (Liberation Movements, etc.) to deliver an outstanding stand-alone, a contemporary spy thriller. Milo Weaver used to be a 'tourist,' one of the CIA's special field agents without a home or a name. Six years after leaving that career, Milo has found a certain amount of satisfaction as a husband and a father and with a desk job at the CIA's New York headquarters. The arrest of an international hit man and a meeting with a former colleague yank Milo back into his old role, from which retirement is never really possible. While plenty of breathtaking scenes in the world's most beautiful places bolster the heart-stopping action, the real story is the soul-crushing toil the job inflicts on a person who can't trust anyone, whose life is a lie fueled by paranoia. George Clooney's company has bought the film rights with the actor slated to star and produce. 100,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In Olen Steinhauer's scathing portrait of the CIA, the agency's highly skilled assassins are called Tourists. They're scattered around the globe, perhaps 20 of them, and now and then one receives a message from their secret headquarters in Manhattan that will say, in so many words, "Go kill X." The Tourist's job is not to question the wisdom or morality of the assignment, but simply to go kill X, who... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) might be a terrorist or an arms dealer or a foreign diplomat or even a fellow American. When we first meet Milo Weaver in 2001, several years as a Tourist have left him strung out on amphetamines and seriously considering suicide. Then a shootout in Venice leaves him wounded, perhaps dying and not much caring. However, on the sidewalk beside him a pregnant American, caught up in the violence, has gone into labor, and Weaver summons help for her before he passes out. Flash forward to 2007. Weaver is married to Tina, the woman he saved, and is raising her daughter as his child. He's retired from Tourism and has been given a desk job. However, as any fan of spy novels — or detective stories or western movies — knows, gunslingers rarely retire and spooks rarely come in from the cold for long. One of his best friends, a spy stationed in Paris, is suspected of passing secrets to a foreign power. Weaver agrees to investigate — to be a Tourist again — because he hopes to prove her innocence. Of course, he can't be sure she's innocent. If there's any one truth that he and his fellow assassins live by, it's that they can't trust anyone, and that includes their co-workers and bosses. "The Tourist" is, among other things, a portrait of the CIA as a nest of highly lethal, surpassingly cynical vipers. A few weeks ago I reviewed Alex Berenson's spy novel "The Silent Man." Both it and "The Tourist" are first-rate popular fiction, but the two authors tell their stories quite differently. I faulted Berenson for placing a James Bond-style superhero in the middle of an otherwise ultra-realistic story about terrorists trying to explode a nuclear device in the United States. No one would accuse Milo Weaver of being Bond-style glamorous. One of the strengths of Steinhauer's novel is his depiction of the conflicts between being a spy and being a family man. Weaver knows that, for all his killing skills, he is "no good at living." Unlike Berenson's novel, which is tightly focused on how three terrorists go about the complicated business of assembling a nuclear device, Steinhauer's is all over the map. Villains are killed, others appear and surprises proliferate. We meet a world-class assassin who's dying of complications from AIDS; a Russian oligarch with a yen for young girls; a mysterious, red-bearded man who may be the middleman between Muslim terrorists and high-priced assassins. The assassination of a Muslim holy man in Sudan may be part of a CIA scheme to make it more difficult for China to buy oil there. ("You've got a continent wet with oil, as well as some of the most corrupt governments this world has ever seen," Weaver's boss explains.) Much of the time, neither we nor Weaver has much idea what's going on, but we keep reading because he is likable — a mess but still the most honorable man in view — and because Steinhauer seems to know the world of spies and assassins all too well. In his telling, it's a nasty, duplicitous world, but it feels real. The question is whether our reluctant Tourist can get out alive and return to the wife and daughter who are counting on him to take them to Disney World. We are clearly being asked to consider which is more surreal: the spy world or Disney World. Amid the day-to-day confusions of life as a spy, Weaver sometimes glimpses the Big Picture, as when his boss tells him: "We've been marking our territory like an imperial dog since the end of the last big war. Since 9/11, we no longer have to go about it sweetly. We can bomb and maim and torture to our heart's content, because only the terrorists are willing to stand up to us, and their opinion doesn't matter." "The Tourist" is serious entertainment that raises interesting questions. Is that last remark just the raving of a cynical novelist, or does it reflect how senior officials of our government viewed the world in 2007? We might further ask, has anyone's thinking changed since? Indeed, does the world of espionage ever change? This is the sixth novel Steinhauer has published since 2003. The first five focused on the Cold War in Eastern Europe, and several were nominated for the Edgar and other awards. The publisher reports that "The Tourist" is the first of three novels focused on the post-9/11 world — and that George Clooney has bought its film rights. On the evidence of "The Tourist," Steinhauer's Milo Weaver trilogy could turn out to be something special. Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail is mondaythrillers(at)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Steinhauer manages to push the genre's darker aspects to the extreme...without sacrificing the propulsive forward momentum....[Weaver] is the perfect hero for such a richly nuanced tale." Booklist (starred review)
"Superbly accomplished at both plotting and characterization...compelling and hard to put down...highly recommended." Library Journal (starred review)
"A little too talky, a little too convoluted to rank among Steinhauer's very best. Still, only le Carré can make a spy as interesting." Kirkus Reviews
"The Tourist is an absolutely superb contemporary espionage novel in the great tradition of the old masters of the genre. Olen Steinhauer is a wonderful storyteller who is smart, observant, and witty. The Tourist has what it take to become a classic." Nelson DeMille
Steinhauer — twice nominated for an Edgar Award — tackles an intricate story of betrayal and manipulation, loyalty and risk in an utterly compelling novel that is both thoroughly modern and yet also reminiscent of classic espionage thrillers by Graham Greene and John le Carré.
In Olen Steinhauers explosive New York Times bestseller, Milo Weaver has tried to leave his old life of secrets and lies behind by giving up his job as a “tourist” for the CIA—an undercover agent with no home, no identity—and working a desk at the CIAs New York headquarters. But staying retired from the field becomes impossible when the arrest of a long-sought-after assassin sets off an investigation into one of Milos oldest colleagues and friends. With new layers of intrigue being exposed in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out whos been pulling the strings once and for all.
In The Tourist, Olen Steinhauer—twice nominated for the Edgar Award—tackles an intricate story of betrayal and manipulation, loyalty and risk, in an utterly compelling novel that is both thoroughly modern and yet also reminiscent of the espionage genres most touted luminaries.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
“The Tourist should be savored…
As rich and intriguing as the best of Le Carré, Deighton or Graham Greene, Steinhauers complex, moving spy novel is perfect for our uncertain, emotionally fraught times.”
—Los Angeles Times
Milo Weaver has tried to leave his old life of secrets and lies behind by giving up his job as a “tourist” for the CIA—an undercover agent with no home, no identity. Now hes working a desk at the agencys New York headquarters. But when the arrest of a long-sought-after assassin sets off an investigation into a colleague, exposing new layers of intrigue in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out whos been behind it allfrom the very beginning.
“[A] TOUR DE FORCE… First-rate popular fiction…The Tourist is SERIOUS ENTERTAINMENT that raises interesting questions.”—Washington Post
“The kind of PRINCIPLED HERO we long to believe still exists in fiction, if not in life.”
—The New York Times Book Review (Editors Choice)
“Elaborately engineered… Mr. Steinhauer, the two-time Edgar Award nominee…can be legitimately mentioned alongside of John le Carré.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“UNRELENTING PARANOIA…AN EXCITING RIDE. “
—The Boston Globe
About the Author
Olen Steinhauer's widely acclaimed Eastern European crime series, which he was inspired to write while on a Fullbright fellowship, is a two-time Edgar Award finalist and has been shortlisted for the Anthony, the Macavity, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, and the Barry awards. Film rights to The Tourist have been optioned by Warner Brothers for George Clooney. Raised in Virginia, Steinhauer lives with his family in Budapest, Hungary.
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