Not since John le Carré has a writer so vividly evoked the multilayered, multifaceted, deeply paranoid world of espionage, in which identities and allegiances are malleable and ever shifting, the mirrors of loyalty and betrayal reflecting one another to infinity. In this intensely clever, sometimes baffling book, it's never quite clear who is manipulating whom, and which side is up…Steinhauer is more interested in twists of plot than turns of phrase, but the very bluntness of his novel's writing adds to its impact.
The New York Times Book Review
Set in 2008, bestseller Steinhauer’s excellent if initially convoluted third thriller featuring Milo Weaver (after 2010’s The Nearest Exit) finds Weaver no longer a member of the CIA’s deeply clandestine Department of Tourism, which was shut down after Chinese spy Xin Zhu, motivated more by personal vengeance than allegiance to his government, orchestrated the assassination of 33 of its agents one by one around the world. When Alan Drummond, Weaver’s boss at the now defunct department, disappears from his London hotel, Weaver gets on his trail—a matter that becomes much more urgent after Drummond’s wife and daughter are kidnapped. Steinhauer is particularly good at articulating contemporary spy craft—the mechanics of surveillance and intelligence in the digital age and the depth of paranoia endemic to the trade. In addition, his ability to create characters with genuine emotions and conflicts, coupled with an insightful and often poetic writing style, set him apart in the world of espionage fiction. 125,000 first printing. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Mar.)
“Stunning. . .Readers are irresistibly drawn into Weaver's dogged struggle to unravel a complicated game of cat and mouse. . .Steinhauer is at the top of his gamebut when isn't he?” USA Today
“The action is lickety-split and spiked with exceedingly satisfying spy craft.” The New York Times
“Not since Le Carre has a writer so vividly evoked the multilayered, multifaceted, deeply paranoid world of espionage, in which identities and allegiances are malleable and ever shifting, the mirrors of loyalty and betrayal reflecting one another to infinity. In this intensely clever, sometimes baffling book, it's never quite clear who is manipulating whom, and which side is up.” The New York Times Book Review
“This ambitious, complex story spans the globe. Even when the intricacies of its plot are most challenging, we are fascinated and swept forward. Steinhauer has been likened to John le Carre and rightly so. Both men carry readers deep into a rival spy agency, one Soviet, one Chinese. . .Zhu may in time be to Weaver what the Soviet spymaster Karla was to le Carre's George Smiley. Olen Steinhauer's Milo Weaver novels are must-reads for lovers of the genre.” The Washington Post
When a brutal Chinese spymaster "deactivates" 33 agents in the CIA's Tourism black-ops unit, survivors Alan Drummond and his sidekick, Milo Weaver, are left jobless. The men seem to be working at cross-purposes as they separately battle to overcome fierce strikes against them. This time, Xin Zhu threatens their wives and offspring, and no obvious ally is a safe bet. Set in pre-Olympics 2008, this suspense-laden novel weaves Chinese extremists, love stories, and UN spies into a high-pressure cyclone of mayhem and betrayal for Milo and those he cares about. VERDICT This follow-up to The Tourist and The Nearest Exit proves the adage that good things come in threes. With Milo Weaver as the conscience-worn hero, Steinhauer does for Chinese-Western intrigue what John le Carré did for the Cold War era of international espionage. A mesmerizing series for dedicated readers of spy fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 9/23/11.]—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA
In Steinhauer's superb spy novel, Milo Weaver (The Nearest Exit, 2010, etc.), in from the cold, wants to stay that way, but no one will let him. Some say he was born to be a spy. Others don't say anything at all about him, because the fact is Milo Weaver--maximally understated, eminently ignorable--is cellophane. Those who know spy-craft best see virtue in this of course, and he's recruited for the Tourists, an elite, extremely secret branch of the CIA. In time, Milo becomes remarkable, a great American spy. And then the unthinkable happens. Before one can say clandestine, the Tourists are converted to history--33 of them, virtually the entire department, wiped out at the command of the wicked and wily Xin Zhu, a spymaster highly placed in the Guoanbu, the intelligence arm of the People's Republic of China. Milo survives, but is suddenly jobless. In from the cold by accident as it were, he finds himself basking in familial warmth: beautiful, loving wife, adorable six year old daughter. As seldom before, in a way he never expected to be, Milo's content. Not so for Alan Drummond, his boss. Rabid for vengeance, Drummond wants the aid and all-out support of his ace agent and will do anything to get it. As it happens, Xin Zhu is also interested in the talented Mr. Weaver and will do anything to turn him. And so begins a geopolitical game of chess--with Milo a pawn, destined, soon, to be half-forgotten--between a pair of opponents consumed by mutual detestation. But in chess, as in life, if certain pawns are half-forgotten they can become powerful enough to change the game. Thickets of tricky conspiracies, swamps full of secret agendas: Reader, you're in le Carré-land, guided there unerringly by one of the best of the newer crop.