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 LeCarré.
About the Author
Olen Steinhauer is the author of the bestselling Milo Weaver series, including The Nearest Exit, and a series of widely acclaimed Eastern European crime novels, which include The Bridge of Sighs, The Confession, 36 Yalta Boulevard, Liberation Movements, and Victory Square. He 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. Raised in Virginia, Steinhauer lives with his family in Budapest, Hungary.
OLEN STEINHAUER, the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including The Middleman, All the Old Knives, and The Cairo Affair, is a Dashiell Hammett Award winner, a two-time Edgar award finalist, and has also been shortlisted for the Anthony, the Macavity, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and the Barry awards. Raised in Virginia, he lives in New York and Budapest, Hungary.
Read an Excerpt
By Olen Steinhauer
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Olen Steinhauer
All rights reserved.
Four hours after his failed suicide attempt, he descended toward Aerodrom Ljubljana. A tone sounded, and above his head the seat belt sign glowed. Beside him, a Swiss businesswoman buckled her belt and gazed out the window at the clear Slovenian sky — all it had taken was one initial rebuff to convince her that the twitching American she'd been seated next to had no interest in conversation.
The American closed his eyes, thinking about the morning's failure in Amsterdam — gunfire, shattering glass and splintered wood, sirens.
If suicide is sin, he thought, then what is it to someone who doesn't believe in sin? What is it then? An abomination of nature? Probably, because the one immutable law of nature is to continue existing. Witness: weeds, cockroaches, ants, and pigeons. All of nature's creatures work to a single, unified purpose: to stay alive. It's the one indisputable theory of everything.
He'd dwelled on suicide so much over the last months, had examined the act from so many angles, that it had lost its punch. The infinitive clause "to commit suicide" was no more tragic than "to eat breakfast" or "to sit," and the desire to snuff himself was often as strong as his desire "to sleep."
Sometimes it was a passive urge — drive recklessly without a seat belt; walk blindly into a busy street — though more frequently these days he was urged to take responsibility for his own death. "The Bigger Voice," his mother would have called it: There's the knife; you know what to do. Open the window and try to fly. At four thirty that morning, while he lay on top of a woman in Amsterdam, pressing her to the floor as her bedroom window exploded from automatic gunfire, the urge had suggested he stand straight and proud and face the hail of bullets like a man.
He'd spent the whole week in Holland, watching over a sixty-year-old U.S.-supported politician whose comments on immigration had put a contract on her head. The hired assassin, a killer who in certain circles was known only as "the Tiger," had that morning made a third attempt on her life. Had he succeeded, he would have derailed that day's Dutch House of Representatives vote on her conservative immigration bill.
How the continued existence of one politician — in this case, a woman who had made a career of catering to the whims of frightened farmers and bitter racists — played into the hands of his own country was unknown to him. "Keeping an empire," Grainger liked to tell him, "is ten times more difficult than gaining one."
Rationales, in his trade, didn't matter. Action was its own reason. But, covered in glass shards, the woman under him screaming over the crackling sound, like a deep fryer, of the window frame splintering, he'd thought, What am I doing here? He even placed a hand flat on the wood-chip-covered carpet and began to push himself up again, to face this assassin head-on. Then, in the midst of all that noise, he heard the happy music of his cell phone. He removed his hand from the floor, saw that it was Grainger calling, and shouted into it, "What?"
"Riverrun, past Eve," Tom Grainger said.
Learned Grainger had created go-codes out of the first lines of novels. His own Joycean code told him he was needed someplace new. But nothing was new anymore. The unrelenting roll call of cities and hotel rooms and suspicious faces that had constituted his life for too many years was stupefying in its tedium. Would it never stop?
So he hung up on his boss, told the screaming woman to stay where she was, and climbed to his feet ... but didn't die. The bullets had ceased, replaced by the whining sirens of Amsterdam's finest.
"Slovenia," Grainger told him later, as he drove the politician safely to the Tweede Kamer. "Portoroz, on the coast. We've got a vanished suitcase of taxpayer money and a missing station chief. Frank Dawdle."
"I need a break, Tom."
"It'll be like a vacation. Angela Yates is your contact — she works out of Dawdle's office. A familiar face. Afterward, stay around and enjoy the water."
As Grainger droned on, outlining the job with minimal details, his stomach had started to hurt, as it still did now, a sharp pain.
If the one immutable law of existence is to exist, then does that make the opposite some sort of crime?
No. Suicide-as-crime would require that nature recognize good and evil. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance.
Maybe that was the crucial point — balance. He'd slipped to some secluded corner of the extremes, some far reach of utter imbalance. He was a ludicrously unbalanced creature. How could nature smile upon him? Nature, surely, wanted him dead, too.
"Sir?" said a bleached, smiling stewardess. "Your seat belt."
He blinked at her, confused. "What about it?"
"You need to wear it. We're landing. It's for your safety."
Though he wanted to laugh, he buckled it just for her. Then he reached into his jacket pocket, took out a small white envelope full of pills he'd bought in Düsseldorf, and popped two Dexedrine. To live or die was one issue; for the moment, he just wanted to stay alert.
Suspiciously, the Swiss businesswoman watched him put away his drugs.
* * *
The pretty, round-faced brunette behind the scratched bulletproof window watched him approach. He imagined he knew what she noticed — how big his hands were, for example. Piano-player hands. The Dexedrine was making them tremble, just slightly, and if she noticed it she might wonder if he was unconsciously playing a sonata.
He handed over a mangled American passport that had crossed more borders than many diplomats. A touring pianist, she might think. A little pale, damp from the long flight he'd just finished. Bloodshot eyes. Aviatophobia — fear of flying — was probably her suspicion.
He managed a smile, which helped wash away her expression of bureaucratic boredom. She really was very pretty, and he wanted her to know, by his expression, that her face was a nice Slovenian welcome.
The passport gave her his particulars: five foot eleven. Born June 1970 — thirty-one years old. Piano player? No — American passports don't list occupations. She peered up at him and spoke in her unsure accent: "Mr. Charles Alexander?"
He caught himself looking around again, paranoid, and gave another smile. "That's right."
"You are here for the business or the tourism?"
"I'm a tourist."
She held the open passport under a black light, then raised a stamp over one of the few blank pages. "How long will you be in Slovenia?"
Mr. Charles Alexander's green eyes settled pleasantly on her. "Four days."
"For vacation? You should spend at least a week. There is many things to see."
His smile flashed again, and he rocked his head. "Well, maybe you're right. I'll see how it goes."
Satisfied, the clerk pressed the stamp onto the page and handed it back. "Enjoy Slovenia."
He passed through the luggage area, where other passengers from the Amsterdam-Ljubljana flight leaned on empty carts around the still-barren carousel. None seemed to notice him, so he tried to stop looking like a paranoid drug mule. It was his stomach, he knew, and that initial Dexedrine rush. Two white customs desks sat empty of officials, and he continued through a pair of mirrored doors that opened automatically for him. A crowd of expectant faces sank when they realized he didn't belong to them. He loosened his tie.
The last time Charles Alexander had been in Slovenia, years ago, he'd been called something else, a name just as false as the one he used now. Back then, the country was still exhilarated by the 1991 ten-day war that had freed it from the Yugoslav Federation. Nestled against Austria, Slovenia had always been the odd man out in that patchwork nation, more German than Balkan. The rest of Yugoslavia accused Slovenes — not without reason — of snobbery.
Still inside the airport, he spotted Angela Yates just outside the doors to the busy arrivals curb. Above business slacks, she wore a blue Viennese blazer, arms crossed over her breasts as she smoked and stared through the gray morning light at the field of parked cars in front of the airport. He didn't approach her. Instead, he found a bathroom and checked himself in the mirror. The paleness and sweat had nothing to do with aviatophobia. He ripped off his tie, splashed water on his cheeks, wiped at the pink edges of his eyes and blinked, but still looked the same.
"Sorry to get you up," he said once he'd gotten outside.
Angela jerked, a look of terror passing through her lavender eyes. Then she grinned. She looked tired, but she would be. She'd driven four hours to meet his flight, which meant she'd had to leave Vienna by 5:00 A.M. She tossed the unfinished smoke, a Davidoff, then punched his shoulder and hugged him. The smell of tobacco was comforting. She held him at arm's length. "You haven't been eating."
"And you look like hell."
He shrugged as she yawned into the back of her hand.
"You going to make it?" he asked.
"No sleep last night."
Angela got rid of the smile. "Still gulping amphetamines?"
"Only for emergencies," he lied, because he'd taken that last dose for no other reason than he'd wanted it, and now, as the tremors shook through his bloodstream, he had an urge to empty the rest down his throat. "Want one?"
They crossed an access road choked with morning taxis and buses heading into town, then followed concrete steps down to the parking lot. She whispered, "Is it Charles these days?"
"Almost two years now."
"Well, it's a stupid name. Too aristocratic. I refuse to use it."
"I keep asking for a new one. A month ago I showed up in Nice, and some Russian had already heard about Charles Alexander."
"Nearly killed me, that Russian."
She smiled as if he'd been joking, but he hadn't been. Then his snapping synapses worried he was sharing too much. Angela knew nothing about his job; she wasn't supposed to.
"Tell me about Dawdle. How long have you worked with him?"
"Three years." She took out her key ring and pressed a little black button until she spotted, three rows away, a gray Peugeot winking at them. "Frank's my boss, but we keep it casual. Just a small Company presence at the embassy." She paused. "He was sweet on me for a while. Can you imagine? Couldn't see what was right in front of him."
She spoke with a tinge of hysteria that made him fear she would cry. He pushed anyway. "What do you think? Could he have done it?"
Angela popped the Peugeot's trunk. "Absolutely not. Frank Dawdle wasn't dishonest. Bit of a coward, maybe. A bad dresser. But never dishonest. He didn't take the money."
Charles threw in his bag. "You're using the past tense, Angela."
"I'm just afraid."
Angela knitted her brows, irritated. "That he's dead. What do you think?"CHAPTER 2
She was a careful driver these days, which he supposed was an inevitable result of her two Austrian years. Had she been stationed in Italy, or even here in Slovenia, she would've ignored her turn signals and those pesky speed limit notices.
To ease the tension, he brought up old London friends from when they both worked out of that embassy as vaguely titled "attachés." He'd left in a hurry, and all Angela knew was that his new job, with some undisclosed Company department, required a steady change of names, and that he once again worked under their old boss, Tom Grainger. The rest of London station believed what they'd been told — that he had been fired. She said, "I fly up for parties now and then. They always invite me. But they're sad, you know? All diplomatic people. There's something intensely pitiful about them."
"Really?" he said, though he knew what she meant.
"Like they're living in their own little compound, surrounded by barbed wire. They pretend they're keeping everyone out, when in fact they're locked in."
It was a nice way to put it, and it made him think of Tom Grainger's delusions of empire — Roman outposts in hostile lands.
Once they hit the A1 heading southwest, Angela got back to business. "Tom fill you in on everything?"
"Not much. Can I get one of those smokes?"
"Not in the car."
"Tell me what you know, and I'll fill in the rest."
Thick forests passed them, pines flickering by as he outlined his brief conversation with Grainger. "He says your Frank Dawdle was sent down here to deliver a briefcase full of money. He didn't say how much."
She nodded at the road.
Charles continued: "He was last seen at the Hotel Metropol in Portoroz by Slovenian intelligence. In his room. Then he disappeared." He waited for her to fill the numerous blank spots in that story line. All she did was drive in her steady, safe way. "Want to tell me more? Like, who the money was for?"
Angela tilted her head from side to side, but instead of answering she turned on the radio. It was preset to a station she'd found during her long drive from Vienna. Slovenian pop. Terrible stuff.
"And maybe you can tell me why we had to learn his last whereabouts from the SOVA, and not from our own people."
As if he'd said nothing, she cranked the volume, and boy-band harmonies filled the car. Finally, she started to speak, and Charles had to lean close, over the stick shift, to hear.
"I'm not sure who the orders started with, but they reached us through New York. Tom's office. He chose Frank for obvious reasons. Old-timer with a spotless record. No signs of ambition. No drinking problems, nothing to be compromised. He was someone they could trust with three million. More importantly, he's familiar here. If the Slovenes saw him floating around the resort, there'd be no suspicions. He vacations in Portoroz every summer, speaks fluent Slovene." She grunted a half-laugh. "He even stopped to chat with them. Did Tom tell you that? The day he arrived, he saw a SOVA agent in a gift shop and bought him a little toy sailboat. Frank's like that."
"I like his style."
Angela's look suggested he was being inappropriately ironic. "It was supposed to be simple as pie. Frank takes the money down to the harbor on Saturday — two days ago — and does a straight phrase-code pass-off. Just hands over the briefcase. In return, he gets an address. He goes to a pay phone, calls me in Vienna, and reads off the address. Then he drives back home."
The song ended, and a young DJ shouted in Slovenian about the hot-hot-hot band he'd just played as he mixed in the intro to the next tune, a sugar-sweet ballad.
"Why wasn't someone backing him up?"
"Someone was," she said, spying the rearview. "Leo Bernard. You met him in Munich, remember? Couple of years ago."
Charles remembered a hulk of a man from Pennsylvania. In Munich, Leo had been their tough-guy backup during an operation with the German BND against an Egyptian heroin racket. They'd never had to put Leo's fighting skills to the test, but it had given Charles a measure of comfort knowing the big man was available. "Yeah. Leo was funny."
"Well, he's dead," said Angela, again glancing into the rearview. "In his hotel room, a floor above Frank's. Nine millimeter." She swallowed. "From his own gun, we think, though we can't find the weapon itself."
"Anyone hear it?"
She shook her head. "Leo had a suppressor."
Charles leaned back into his seat, involuntarily checking the side mirror. He lowered the volume as a woman tried with limited success to carry a high E-note. Then he cut it off. Angela was being cagey about the central facts of this case — the why of all that money — but that could wait. Right now he wanted to visualize the events. "When did they arrive at the coast?"
"Friday afternoon. The seventh."
"Frank, no. He was too well known for that. Leo used an old one, Benjamin Schneider, Austrian."
"Next day, Saturday, was the trade. Which part of the docks?"
"I've got it written down."
"Frank disappears ...?"
"Last seen at 4:00 A.M. Saturday morning. He was up until then drinking with Bogdan Krizan, the local SOVA head. They're old friends. Then, around two in the afternoon, the hotel cleaning staff found Leo's body."
"What about the dock? Anyone see what happened at seven?"
Again, she glanced into the rearview. "We were too late. The Slovenes weren't going to ask us why Frank was buying them toys. And we didn't know about Leo's body until after seven. His papers were good enough to confuse the Austrian embassy for over eight hours."
Excerpted from The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer. Copyright © 2009 Olen Steinhauer. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Tourist starts slowly but caught my interest. The plot is convoluted and if this were a movie you'd probably say it was about 1/2 hour too long. It winds to a good finish. I thought it was a good, but not great read.
Deceit is thick in the air in this modern spy novel. Shifting shapes, names, loyalties are as loosely moored as ever in the spy industry. While China's interest in Sudan's oil is mentioned, interpersonal human drama is the real center of this absorbing 6th novel from expatriate Olen Steinhauer. The clash of jurisdictions between the CIA and Homeland Security in the USA adds a touch of verisimilitude. Steinhauer does a very good job creating characters one cares about. He did the right thing by modelling his work on the great spy novelists of old.
Book 1 in the trilogy staring Milo Weaver This seemingly realistic thriller is a first rate fiction , a tale of the nasty and deceitful world of spies and assassins. Milo Weaver aka Charles Alexander is one of the CIA's highly skilled assassins, in the trade they are known as "Tourists". When deployed to various corners of the world, their missions are to be executed without question. The story opens in 2001 with Milo at a low point in his life. Being a "Tourist" for several years has taken its toll..... his only escape at this point is amphetamines and they are leaving him in a suicidal state. A new mission in Venice to stop the hit man known as "The Tiger" gives him a whole new look at life...... The story flashes forward to 2007. Now a married man with a child, away from active duty and bored at his desk job Milo finds himself longing for the excitement and the adrenalin rush of his old job....Once a spook always a spook.... Milo is reinvigorated when he is summoned to the side of the "Tiger" for a death bed conversation.... The man's confessions send Milo off once again on a chilling path into the world of international conspiracies. This novel is a modern twist of the old days of espionage, a compelling and intricate account of betrayal, manipulation, loyalty and risk. Its central figure is a complicated man with many faults and flaws, but when faced with extraordinary situations he excels. Throughout the novel you will find plenty of breathtaking scenes and heart stopping action. I enjoyed piecing together the various parts of this very entertaining puzzle and would not hesitate recommending it to anyone.
The Tourist in this case is a CIA agent who travels as a spy for his country. When Milo Weaver tried to leave his old life of secrets and spying, he is dragged back in to try to figure out who is pulling the strings and who are the good/bad guys. Good intrigue, plot engineering and layers to the storyline. Grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. Now that I have finished it, I am going to catch up on my sleep! Mr. Steinhauer's sixth novel. The blurb on the first page states that the film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros. for George Clooney. I can see that! And I always like to read the book first and generally they are deeper and more intricate than the movie.
Layers of deceit are uncovered in The Tourist, and the reader is never sure if the truth has just been revealed or not. To say that the story is complex is an understatement, but the reader who sticks it though is rewarded with, well, something to think about. Our government, and security services everywhere, are manned by fallible humans, and they make mistakes and suffer corruption, and, seemingly, love to break the rules. What's to be done with that? The author is of no help there.
What a good spy novel! Never a dull moment, I have also read "The Tourist" whoch is book No. 2 . Daisy
Six years ago Milo Weaver left his CIA field job as a "tourist" to sit at a desk in the New York City office; he knew it was time as the cold means no hesitation whatsoever. After taking some bullets to the chest in Vienna, Milo knew he would never be the same. He has since married and has become a father living with his loved ones in Brooklyn, which has helped Milo somewhat move past the adrenalin rush of undercover operations.
However, once a tourist always a tourist even if the courage has left you scared. His former boss informs him that a sheriff has arrested Samuel Roth for a domestic abuse incident in Blackdale, Tennessee; Samuel is thought to be the ferocious assassin Tiger and the brass want Milo to confirm his identity. However, the simple assignment turns ugly leaving Milo on the run from unknown adversaries and law enforcement who believes he is a cold blooded killer; his biggest fear is that his beloved spouse and daughter are in peril from his enemies.
THE TOURIST is fast-paced and filled with non-stop action yet as is the case with Olen Steinhauser¿s saga in an unnamed Eastern Europe twentieth century Communist series, the frustrations and anguish of the hero owns the story line. Mindful of Patrick McGoohan¿s character John Drake in Secret Agent Man, Milo is burned out and suffering from PTSD compounded when friends betray him leaving his family vulnerable. He stoically accepts that Johnny Rivers¿ lyrics is right ¿with every move he makes another chance he takes odds are he won't live to see tomorrow¿.
I feel like should like this book more than I did but in the end I never feel like I was pulled in by the story. The start does a good job of setting the scene with an action packed sequence but from then on it was more back office politics and investigation work rather than a thriller. The story moves along well but I felt the end just felt unfulfilling as the story is wrapped up but we don’t get to see what the whole plot is. One the plus side the characters are complex and interesting and how they are all pulled together in the end is great and the writing is good. I’ll probably move on in the series at some point but after finishing this I didn’t feel as if I needed to right away.
This novel provides a gritty, troubling view of CIA activities. The main character, Milo Weaver, belongs to a black ops group within the CIA ("The Department of Tourism") which travels the world posing as tourists, with no apparent connection to the CIA. The Tourists, run by CIA handlers, are used to accomplish almost any dirty trick imaginable that is deemed by the "Company" to somehow enhance the U.S. position on the world stage or even to enhance the personal interests of the handler. Nearly all of the assignments blur the line between the ethical and unethical, truth and lies, legal and illegal. Some assignments involved lying to, injuring, and even assassinating fellow fellow Tourists. Milo Weaver starts out at a low point in his life at the beginning of the book, and ends up at a bit higher point - but not much. However, the book is well-written, action packed, and easy to read - interesting enough to be a "page-turner." This is one of the best novels I have read recently. Apparently this is the first in a possible series of Milo Weaver novels, and I am looking forward to reading Stenhauer's next one, "The Nearest Exit."
I found this book to be rather dark, but it kept me interested enough to finish and have ordered the sequel.
Character development is slow, but worth the wait. It is a fascinating story that leads the reader through the murky waters of the spy game.
I liked this book very much.
This is quite a good thriller. Enjoy!
A life as a tourist sounds like a great idea, however for Milo Weaver it was a difficult life. As a professional undercover agent for the CIA, Milo had worked several “assignments,” but none of them focused on a colleague until now. Now with distrust and cover-ups many old cases are coming back under suspicion and Milo is forced back into the life of a tourist. The Tourist is a fascinating and complicated spy novel. It starts out a bit slow and at times seems tedious, but the plot quickly picks up the pace. Readers will wrapped up in Milo’s mind and looking over their shoulder’s while they read. The plot twists and time jumps will keep readers guessing until the very end. Graphic scenes call for a mature audience, but overall an excellent start to the series. Notes: This review was originally written for My Sister's Books. This review was originally posted on Ariesgrl Book Reviews.
When I picked up this book, I was expecting a change of pace from what I've been reading recently, but I had no hopes for it being a novel I truly enjoyed. I remarked to myself early on that it was decently interesting, but that I'd likely steadily plod through it for a month or so. A day later, I realized that I had finished nearly a third of it and soon after it became difficult to put down. Unlike other spies that I've read about or seen on the screen, Milo Weaver has no super powers (mental or otherwise), and you can almost see how one could be in his position if circumstances lined up and they had the will to do so. Steinhauer walks that fine line between believability and intrigue that enables you to connect with the characters, yet still be surprised at the turn of the chapter. I didn't expect Milo Weaver to take me anywhere, but I may just yet follow him into another book.
Another cheating author. Milo's family connections provide a (completely) implausible 'get out of jail free' card. This guy is CIA agent, for goodness' sake and they haven't vetted his family background? Give us a break. More or less continuous action doesn't compensate for the arbitrary plotting.
Both plot and characterization were highly engaging. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about world-weary spies. But one plot device falls flat, and it is utterly unworthy of this book: the "Christian Scientist" assassin. As a former CS raised in the religion, I can state unequivocally that Olen Steinhauer knows absolutely nothing about the religion. And that's a shame, because not only do the errors mar an otherwise excellent book, but a real Christian Scientist would have made a great assassin. The basics of the CS plot device: an assassin who is a Christian Scientist is injected with HIV, and because Christian Scientists don't use medicine, the assassin dies, even though he could have lived many years by taking the anti-HIV drugs.What Steinhauer gets right: He correctly states that the characters' parents were members of the "Church of Christ, Scientist" (rather than "Christian Science Church"). To quibble: real Christian Scientists would belong to a particular church, e.g., "First Church of Christ, Scientist, Somerville, Massachusetts," but maybe in the universe of the story the CIA wasn't specific. Also, Steinhauer's assassin quotes Mary Baker Eddy. Real Christian Scientists do like to quote Mary Baker Eddy.However, Steinhauer grabbed weird MBE quotes, not passages that a Christian Scientist in extremis would actually quote. And in doing so, he distorts the entire point of CS theology.The assassin quotes, "The Science of Christianity makes pure the fountain, in order to purify the stream," and explains that "Faith talks you into doing things you might not want to do." He continues, "I may not have lived up to the Church's tenets, but I'll certainly die by them. God has seen fit to strike me down--and why wouldn't He? If I were him, I would've done it years ago." And still later, "The power of prayer didn't save my body, but it just might save my soul."The assassin clearly believes that his suffering and death were sent by God as punishment for sin. He hopes to be purified through prayer so that his soul can be saved. Nothing could be more foreign to a CS. A devout CS believes that sickness is just a delusion. The more you admit the reality of the delusion, the less likely that you can dispel it and claim your true existence as a healthy child of God. Hence, CSs refuse medical treatment, not because they're reluctant to interfere with God's decisions, but because accepting medical treatment requires them to believe sickness exists. (Similarly, I've known CSs to refuse to wear seatbelts: when you wear a seatbelt, you admit that an accident can happen, and therefore make it more likely that you'll experience an accident.)A devout CS would never intimate that God sent sickness--the "belief" of sickness is instead a human failure to recognize that God does no such thing. In fact, CSs believe that Jesus didn't have to suffer and die on the cross--He only pretended to suffer and die and be resurrected in order to demonstrate that suffering and death are unreal. A devout CS who was dying of AIDS would turn to popular MBE quotes, not random quotes, probably MBE's Scientific Statement of Being ("There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in Matter . . . ") And a devout CS would go to his death expecting to be healed at any moment. OK, so maybe the guy was just a staggeringly lousy CS, so lousy that he misunderstood the entire theology. But it's a shame--because an assassin who truly believes in the unreality of death would be an awesome character. Such an assassin could justify murdering people because "death isn't real anyway." Yes, that would be twisted--CSs don't go around murdering people--but hey, if you're going to create a CS assassin, why not take advantage of the CS "death is unreal" belief? Steinhauer missed a great opportunity.I realize that this review concerns a teensy part of the book, but you have all these other great reviews to give you a picture of the whole thing.
I don't mind dark and moody spy novels; after all, I love Quiller and nothing is darker or moodier. But in the course of a dark and moody spy novel, you need a hero (or anti-hero) that you care about. Milo Weaver is not that guy. Far too often Milo or another character tells the reader that Milo just isn't that special at his job and his moodiness saps energy from the story. I don't mind his reticence to provide information to the reader (especially as it adds to the story; again, see Quiller), but what Milo does tell the reader is too often in the nature of 'woe is me'. I was bored, frankly.
I thought this book was fantastic. The ending was a little lacking due to the large number of plot twists and a lack of closure, but it kept me interested all the way through. Maybe the next book that is being written will help to tie up some loose ends (another Milo Weaver tale).
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess I rarely read this type of spy-thriller novel. That said, I was very impressed by this novel and enjoyed it much more that I anticipated. The writing is tight and the author avoids the tendency to lapse into steriotypical spy novel dialogue. The action in the book moves fast, and I can already seen in my head the blockbuster movie that could be made from this story. Milo's relationship with his wife Tina and step-daughter Stephanie adds an unusually human touch to this action adventure, and helps flesh out Milo as a character. The plot, though complicated, is well-drawn, and I was guessing right up to the very last pages. All in all, an enjoyable fast read, and an excellent example of the genre.
Having wrapped up his five-book series of detective stories based in an unidentified country in Eastern Europe (see The Confession (Inspector Ferenc Kolyeszar)), Olen Steinhauer kicks off a new 3-book series focused on a former "Tourist" (read CIA hit man) Milo Weaver. Weaver has retired from the field and moved to managing other tourists after he crashed and burned while on an assignment six years ago. More recently the happily married Milo has been mysteriously been leaving for long business trips. It turns out he is on the trail of a notorious free agent bad guy, The Tiger. What the Tiger tells Milo sets a chain of events in motion that turns his life upside down. At about the same time, Milo is sent to investigate whether a close friend has been turned and if so, by whom? The Chinese? Islamic terrorists? Steinhauer gives us a bit of fun by exploring the interplay between US Homeland Security and the CIA. He also offers an possibility that rings true: when Homeland Security was created every one of the various spook and law enforcement agencies made sure to plant spies within the new agency. Steinhauer does spend time exploring the way the US deals with terrorist suspects: presumed guilty and tortured until proven so by their own words. Steinhauer writes honest-to-goodness spy thrillers. It occurred to me as I burned through the pages of 'The Tourist' that for once a 'page-turner' really is. He deserves to be more widely read than he has been to date. The book jacket claims the seemingly inevitable comparison to John Le Carre, but a more apt parallel is Robert Ludlum at the top of his game (you know, not including the books Ludlum has amazingly written after his death!). Milo Weaver reminds me much more of Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity (Bourne Trilogy, Book 1)) than George Smiley. It would be extravagant to claim that Milo Weaver is a perfect blend of the two, but Steinhauer's Weaver is certainly a deeper, more self-aware character than Bourne. The Tourist is a highly recommended spy thriller.
Espionage loves its jargon and its arcane techniques. The CIA is called The Company, by those who know. Spies practice tradecraft, which encompasses everything from how to designate, mark, and carry out a drop off to how properly to evade surveillance to how to communicate in code so that correct information is being passed and--in the best of all possible worlds--disinformation is being passed at the same time.And a tourist is an agent who has apparently flamed out and left the Company, or died, or gone rogue, but is actually working under deep cover in the darkest division of the most clandestine corner of the organization. Tourists are the guys who carry out assassinations, among other dark ops, for the Company.Milo Weaver is a former tourist--now, he will discover when he gets back into the game, a legend--who has for half a decade been back in the States, working at a desk job for the Company. He's got a wife, a daughter, and a brownstone in Brooklyn. He's as content as he's ever been, so it's inevitable that he will be sucked back into the game. With a vengeance.The action takes Weaver across the United States and Europe: from Paris to Venice to Blackdale, Tennessee. There are flashbacks to the Cold War era, and Milo Weaver, in the end, has a most delicious and surprising secret.Spy novels, even when they're indifferently written, are good, convoluted, difficult to follow fun. Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist, I'm happy to say, is well-written, deftly plotted, intelligent, and, well, still kind of difficult to follow...but that's part of the game, now, isn't it? If it were easy to follow, then we'd all be spies.
An intricately woven tale of espionage, deception, murder, betrayal, despair, and even loyalty and love. Despite a few niggling details that don't quite add up and some stilted dialogue it works well as a spy novel, and accordingly doesn't give away most of its secrets until the end. Milo Weaver is a character that can be built upon to return another day, as could some of the secondary characters.
Not a thrill ride, but not as confussing as Lecarre. Somewhere in between. A fresh and enjoyable although sometimes confussing read.
not for me