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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 LeCarr¨¦.
- Imagine the best of Ludlum and mix it with a little DeMille = Superb
This is the most exciting fiction book that I have read in 2 years. It has been compared to Le Carre, but that is a misnomer. Le Carre is more sophisticated and abstract. Steinhauer has composed a masterpiece of contemporary "Spy vs. Spy" drama. It is very easy to see why George Clooney has already bought the rights to star and produce a movie from this book. But don't misunderstand me, it was not written for a movie - by that I mean that it is not shallow and quickly put together. This book has a plot that doesn't let the reader relax - ever.
Starting with the opening chapters, you are whisked into a plot that shows something and then takes it away. Never is the reader in control of the plot or the characters. Guessing.... guessing... all of the time guessing at who the good guys or bad guys or are there any that can even be classified as such. I haven't read a book of this genre that has been this engaging for a while. It doesn't fit into the classic style of Le Carre, so it has to be in the modern genre of spy novels by Silva, Ludlum, and DeMille.
Milo Weaver, aka Charles Alexander is a spy, or a Tourist if you please. I can't tell you any more or I might unwittingly give you some hint that might spoil the story and this is much too good to be ruined even a little.
Sit back and enjoy one of the best in its class. One of the few 5 star ratings that I've given out.
- Classic International Intrigue
I loved this book and highly recommend it.
The story impressed me as it was current, interesting, and involved. The main characters are complex, developing nicely throughout the story, with surprising responses to the events as they unfold. I felt the author's timing of scene changes was good, adding interest and, eventually, understanding of the various character's actions. I thought they moved quite smoothly, unlike some other reviewers.
If you're looking for light, mindless reading, this isn't it. I had no trouble following the story but there were complexities that the reader needed to grasp to understand the outcome. I would guess the somewhat unresolved ending was intentional, to leave open the possibility of a sequel.
I see that the movie rights are already purchased and hope they do the story justice. I have my suspicions that there could be a series similar to "Borne Identity". ...more info
- An Excellent Entry into the Spy Genre
Edgar award winning novelist Olen Steinhauer has written a terrific novel in "The Tourist". In CIA parlance, a "tourist" is an agency assassin. As Steinhauer portrays it, the CIA has a score or more "tourists" strategically placed around the world . They sit and wait; awaiting instructions as to whom the company has decided next needs to die.
The book focuses on one such tourist, Milo Weaver. His time as a tourist has left him psychologically damaged, not destroyed, but incapable of enjoying life. Weaver lives in a world that he can not precisely perceive. He lives in a world of uncertainty, never being permitted to grasp the big picture, only the bottom right hand corner. He seldom knows why an individual becomes one of his targets, only that the company wants him dead. And for that portion of reality that he does perceive, he doesn't know what to truly believe or, for that matter, whom to trust. It is this nebulous world in which he lives that has driven him just slightly off center.
Without giving away the plot, we follow Weaver as he attempts to regain normalcy, by coming in from the cold. However, in Weaver's case, as it has been for so many others, a spy that comes in from the cold is seldom left to enjoy the warmth of normal home life. Weaver is soon cast out into the world of duplicity to chase a ghost from his previous life.
Steinhauer weaves an excellent tale. The reader is drawn into Milo Weaver's world and, through the author's lies of omissions, we see the world as it appears to Weaver, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
This is an excellent book; worthy of mention along with the finest efforts of Le Carre and Greene. If you enjoy the works of the aforementioned authors, you will find this book to be a new found treasure. George Clooney and Warner Brothers have optioned the film rights. It would make a wonderful vehicle for Clooney.
- As good or better than others of the genre
And you can see why George Clooney bought the rights to make a film; as though it was written for him. He should consider casting John Malkovich again as well....more info
- Complicated but fun
I liked the Tourist. I am a big Le Carre fan so I liked the allusions here and there. I had to go back and forth in the book a bit to figure out who was who. Russian names tend to sound alike. The novel is well paced. I liked Milo as a character and the action scenes read well. If you are a fan of the genre...this one is a cut above....more info
- I didn't care for it...
I had really high hopes for this book due to the raving reviews & the fact that George Clooney's Smokehouse Pictures bought film rights & that George Clooney himself plans to star & produce the movie but I just never really got into the book. As a movie I'm sure it'd be great & I could keep better track but as far the reading goes there were just way too many people to keep track of. It seemed like half the time that a name was mentioned I couldn't remember who the person was. It was just too complicated for me & my brain didn't want to work hard enough to put all of the pieces together.
I didn't care for the ending. It never really wrapped itself up which I guess may be the point if this is to be a series. I actually felt pretty dumb because I didn't really understand it. If you like spy/espionage novels then I'd say you'll probably enjoy this book but if this isn't your typical kind of book then I'd say pass & wait for the movie like I wish I had done....more info
- This isn't "Trade Craft" - this is Amateur Hour for spies
I cannot believe this book actually got printed! The author is one of the worst writers that I have read!
Contrived, loosely held together, so scattered between this/that. That is what this book is. The plot is unoriginal-though the settings seem to be that classic "Euro-Bond" landscape. The only originality in this book was the boredom that it causes the reader. Honestly, reading this book was like that Seinfeld episode where J.Peterman drags Elaine to see the "English Patient" - and Elaine screams out "Just die already!"
DO NOT BE FOOLED - This author is one of the worst spy novelists I have had the displeasure of reading!
His depiction of "Trade Craft" for spies is laughable. I'll give him credit for "dead drops", but other than that...I'm going to go with a NO NO NO NO! What the @#%($ were the publishers thinking by giving this guy a book deal!
Plot:"Drunk/Drugged Up&OUT CIA 'Tourist'" (all with a much too confusing game of "what is my name...no really what is going to be my name...no seriously what was my name...game going on through out the intro) looking to make a killing; centered around 9/11 - and then slow but painful death of a plot kills what is left of a potentially brain dead novel!
Barbara Cartland (God rest her soul) could have written a better spy novel! And to think someone actually bought the rights to make this a movie?!? Seriously, to the people who bought the rights...get your money back! For those of you out there considering buying this garbage - hope you're using it for kindling or toilet paper, because damn, this is one of the worst books I have ever read!...more info
- A twisting, intriguing spy thriller
"Tourists" are the staff who conduct secretive CIA black ops and their handlers are called "travel agents". Milo is a former Tourist, now retired from active duty and acting as a travel agent. He is pulled back in to track down an assassin ("The Tiger") who is a former foe - but it quickly emerges that things are not as straightforward as they first appeared to be.
The book hooks you in immediately with a very exciting prologue and then abruptly - disconcertingly - it changes course. From there it keeps up the intrigue through to the conclusion. It's not one of those books where you can tell from the outset how it's all going to come together. Quite the opposite!
The Tourist is an excellent thriller that's more Ludlum than le Carre (but good Ludlum, back in the days when he was in top form). In several ways it reminded me of The Bourne Identity. A great read that you don't want to put down. Should make a terrific movie....more info
- 4 1/2 stars for this exciting, well written book
Like several other reviewers, I should point out that I rarely read spy novels, preferring character driven stories. Well, sometimes the lucky reader finds both a darn good story and well drawn characters. So, then, while it took a few pages to get into this book, once hooked, I could hardly put it down. Olen Steinhauer's keen writing skills and clever plot devices will keep the reader guessing until the end of the story. Well, until the end of this book anyway as I'm betting there will be a sequel.
It seems that once a Tourist, always a Tourist. Milo Weaver, the main character in the book had hoped to work at a desk job and live unencumbered with his family but alas it was not to be. He gets dragged back into the intrigue in spite of himself. He did choose to become a Tourist but I still felt some sympathy for Milo. Doubtless few realize what they will be giving up in the long term when they sign on to become spys in their youth. To the novice such a vocation probably sounds exotic and glamorous.
The most compelling aspect of this book IMHO is the human toll such activity takes on the individual and his/her family. Milo tried to keep each from damaging the other but not successfully. This then is a human story; it isn't about high powered technology which only a few understand anyway but is instead about a man driven by his past and by his secrets. I highly recommend the book and look forward to the sequel.
- The Not-So Bourne
In a way, this story is a counterpoint to the Jason Bourne saga. This is the story of a CIA operative who is all too human, and, I think, more compelling and realistic because of it, even if you at times find yourself wishing for some heroic, unbelievable act to save the day. Where James Bond thinks or responds himself into a dead end or allows the opponent to corner him, he always finds a way out. Real life isn't like that. And Milo Weave is not James Bond. He is not Jason Bourne.
The writing is flawless. Description, dialog, story-telling. The author puts the story together seamlessly. He allows the story to unfold through the eyes of its protagonist, slipping into the skulls of other players just enough to expand our view of events. I dislike stories where in order to create suspense the protagonist engages in foolish activities. You won't see any of that here, as Milo Weaver acts according to the best intel available to him. When he runs into difficulties, it is perfectly believable; you won't find yourself saying, "Why did he go and do that?"
The story moves along at a good clip. It is not one of those stories you can sit down, read the first chapter, and already have an outline in your head with a hunch of how it will end. I had no idea, and a sudden and unexpected development in the book's final act leaves you wondering, dashing any hunches you might have at that point to the ground as it roars off in another direction.
Highly recommended if you like suspenseful stories with believable, likable characters facing realistic circumstances and their own limitations. It you like this genre, you will like The Tourist....more info
- Not quite Le Carre, but a good read
Spies never retire. In an unofficial ledger in an anonymous government building, their statuses fall one of two ways: alive or dead. And while those binary options might suit Ian Fleming's super spy, James Bond, perfectly fine, Olen Steinhauer's Milo Weaver seeks a third option: family man with a house in the suburbs. Unfortunately for Weaver, his government does not share his vision. So like the many spies before him who tried to get out of the business, his skills are put to one last test when he stumbles into a conspiracy and his government turns its considerable resources loose upon him.
The Tourist strives to draw comparisons with John Le Carre, though it falls short of that vision in both theme and setting. While Le Carre's excellent, descriptive writing thrived in the middle ground - neither spies nor their governments are truly good or evil - The Tourist leaves the reader with only one conclusion: Weaver's government is pure evil, while he is mostly good. The book's settings more resemble movie sets - which might explain why George Clooney has already optioned the book for an upcoming film - than the living, breathing cities of Le Carre.
Those criticisms aside, it remains one of the better books I've read in the spy genre, more nuanced, with far better plotting and writing than a typical spy thriller. The book compelled me to turn pages, though I did not want it to end too quickly. So while it falls short of its lofty goal of joining the ranks of Le Carre in spy literature, The Tourist remains a thinking-individual's novel, a worthy addition to library of anyone who enjoys an intelligent spy novel. ...more info
- Danger Personified
Believe it or not, the fantasy world of Disney plays a role in this far-fetched story. It is really fantastic and, to a great degree, based on a somewhat unbelievable premise. Milo Weaver, a/k/a Charles Alexander, is the Tourist of the title, one of a band of black operatives, directed by "travel agents" in secret offices on the Avenue of the Americas [otherwise known as Sixth Avenue] in New York City, roaming the world for the CIA as assassins. Now I have no doubt that the CIA has conducted an occasional murder in the past, even though it is contrary to the law, but to the extent portrayed in this novel, it is hard to believe. Politicians, religious leaders, businessmen are said to be killed willy-nilly to implement foreign policy, sanctioned by rogue CIA supervisors.
After years serving overseas, Milo is now stationed in the clandestine New York City headquarters at a desk job, married and acting as the father of his wife's daughter by her first husband and enjoying family life. Suddenly he is manipulated into a series of events involving all sorts of intrigues and then accused of murders, for which eventually he is arrested and jailed.
The plot is very complicated, not to mention convoluted. While the writing is fluid, and the story progresses logically, one has to accept it at face value, while many of the postulations are questionable. Nevertheless, the novel is a pretty good read.
- another steinhauer masterpiece
having finished steinhauer's last fictional eastern european series, i relished starting "the tourist", knowing his subject matter was contemporary spys and the cia. he still managed to sneak a few familiar characters in (brano sev!). wow, just like his earlier works, this book keeps you guessing until the end, more humor than his previous works but a darker conclusion, too. i hope we haven't heard the last of milo weaver/charles alexander and the rest of the characters comprising "the tourist". i look forward to his next work with great anticipation....more info
- The Tourist
Quite an interesting book. Although the beginning starts out a little slow-paced, the plot quickly picks up such that it was impossible to put this book down. I am definitely looking forward to the movie now that I have read this book!...more info
- This is so a Movie.
Steinhauer has already sold the rights to this brilliant novel about a CIA (tourist)who not only does gritty work but doesn't seem too keen on living the brutal points of his career. But there is something bigger going on here, and it works because Steinhauer is a manipulative master and sees the bigger picture between the pages and sentences. This novel is dying to be a film and as you read the brilliant prose - it hits you like a ton of bricks. Key scenes are set not only at landmarks but Hallmarks of American life. The characters are never stilted and its comes to together as a twisting tale of a man.
This novel goes beyond being an espionage thriller and delves deeper. The is an air that Steinhauer is trying to give you a visual rush, and a mental one as well. There is an openness to this novel that allows the reader to breathe and truly take in the main character, Milo. Steinhauer gives the reader enough room to watch Milo's world fall apart and ours as well through the lens of 9/11....more info
A number of elements combine to make Olen Steinhauer's novel, The Tourist, one of the best I've read in some time. Steinhauer's characters, especially protagonist Milo Weaver, are complex and nuanced. The plot moves at a pace that allows the complexity to develop, without the heart-stopping action typical of some spy and thriller novels. Dialogue always sounds right. A tourist is a buzzword that refers to those CIA field agents who operate without a home base or a name. Milo retired from that life and now holds down a desk job at a CIA office in New York. Events demand that Milo re-enter that life, from which retirement was never really possible. Milo finds himself and his reputation damaged, and is hard pressed to recover from alienation. Lies and secrets are everywhere, and Milo tries to protect himself and others in a struggle for life. Whether you like spy novels or not, the fine writing in The Tourist is likely to appeal to most readers.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
- Like The Good Old Spy Days
This is an excellent spy thriller like the old days. This is a story of a top notch, in the field spy, who reached an age to stop and take a well deserved desk job, instead of doing wet work for the company. He settles down, marries and is raising a family and getting a little thick in the middle, when you can guess what happens, he has to get back to the field to solve a situation that requires his expertise and his knowledge of the players. I really enjoyed this book and looking forward to the motion picture which George Clooney bought the film rights and to my understanding is going to appear in it. First time I have read Olen Steinhauer but hopefully not the last....more info
- Actually Lives Up to All the Hype
In a literary world, where every new book is touted as the greatest written work since the Bible, and Nora Roberts (or JD Robb) and James Patterson put out novels like Big Macs and Robert Ludlum publishes books eight years after he died, it's hard to believe anything you read about any book. In the intro to "The Tourist" it's compared to John LeCarre's "Spy Who Came in From the Cold", but to me it's more like Graham Greene's "The Third Man" or Fritz Lang's "M".
It's above and beyond anything else being written at this time. It well paced and plotted, and never treats the reader like an idiot. There's also some interesting vignettes thrown into the book, as one of the characters has the name of Klausner (who is the #1 Reviewer at Amazon). Another is that one of the character's Russian name is Vlastov who was a famous Tsarist General and his father is named Yevgeny Primakov (different last names, and Primakov was the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and a KGB General).
The title refers to a 'special' section of the CIA that does black-ops and therefore doesn't really exist. The 'field agents' are called Tourist, the department is Tourism and the in-house people are called Travel Agents. The antagonisms between the the CIA and DHS (Homeland Security) are just what you would expect and parallel the problems that
DHS has with the FBI.
Like any good thriller, there are enigmas, within spirals and square holes fitted with round pegs and no one is who or what they seem to the point where even with a scorecard it's hard to tell who is who. This is the first book in a projected trilogy and it should be interesting to see where the author will take the character in the future.
As an aside, Steinhauer who is an American by birth (and now lives in Budapest), has written a five volume serial about an unnamed Eastern European country that starts in the thirties and ends in 1989 with the fall of communism. He has been called the best writer you've never heard of. This book has been bought by George Cluney's production company as a starring vehicle for him.
Zeb Kantrowitz...more info
- "It was a miserable job; it was a miserable life."
In the post-Cold War days immediately prior to 9/11, Milo Weaver, a "tourist" for the CIA--an agent without a home base--dealt with issues like finding war criminals, watching ¨¦migr¨¦ Russians living an extravagant style abroad, and looking for three million dollars thought to have been stolen by Frank Dawdle, the CIA station chief in Slovenia. Milo, a failed suicide addicted to Dexedrine, has seen too much violence and crime. Watching a Russian pedophile throw a thirteen-year-old girl off a balcony in Venice, seeing an influential CIA man betray his country, and being shot and nearly killed when that agent is murdered by another "tourist," has just about done him in.
Six years later, Milo is happily married to a woman whose life he saved, with a six year-old stepdaughter who adores him. Though he is no longer a "tourist," he is still working for the CIA, investigating "The Tiger," one of the most vicious killers in the world, an equal-opportunity assassin who has killed, among others, both an influential cleric in the Sudan and the French foreign minister. No one knows for whom he works. When Milo tracks him down, he learns that the Tiger has actually planned their meeting, deliberately leaving a trail for him because he wants to meet him. The Tiger wants Milo to find and kill the man who has commissioned all the international killings--and ultimately, the man who has arranged for the Tiger's own death.
The evolving action reveals much about the internecine squabbles within the CIA, between the CIA and Homeland Security, and between Congressmen and both organizations. The number of betrayals is astonishing, high level agents with personal rather than national agendas, double agents, agents who sell out each other, and trained agents who disappear to assume new identities and freelance on a global scale--for a fee. Homeland Security and the CIA distrust each other, and key information is not shared. Congressmen sometimes run their own investigations, and no one can be trusted.
As this intricately constructed novel moves back and forth in time, the reader must constantly consider several basic issues: Who is the Tiger? Who is Milo? And, finally, is the information that the author provides about these and other characters reliable, or is the author himself acting as a "double agent"? The reader must constantly act as a "tourist" here, accumulating hints but not knowing much definite information about Milo and other main characters until well into the novel. While this involves the reader in the action, the lack of certainty about some characters keeps them (especially Milo), at arm's length. Numerous aliases for important characters occasionally lead to confusion. Still, the novel is exciting as Steinhauer capably unites disparate threads to keep the suspense high and his readers involved. n Mary Whipple
The Bridge of Sighs: A Novel
- An author and an entertainer
"The Tourist" of the title is a former black-ops agent named Milo Weaver who (incorrectly) thinks his violent days of national service are behind him. He has a wife and kid and an intelligence desk job that largely keeps him out of trouble.
But this wouldn't be much of a read if Milo stayed at his desk. Early on, he finds himself called back into action. Not long after, he is desperately trying to conduct a multiple-thread investigation while trying to clear his name of a crime for which he was framed.
"The Tourist" is a very good read. It's not one of those books that comes along every 20 years or so and redefines/reinvents a genre, but it sure is fun. Olen Steinhauer knows the ins and outs of the spy novel and he exploits them to good effect.
While some of the plot twists aren't entirely believable or original, you probably won't balk much since the book moves at a nice pace. And while there's many a character here that you've met in other spy novels, you probably won't mind that much, either. Like me, you will likely ignore the few failings of the novel because the author is providing quality cat-and-mouse drama that's a kick to read. His plot bogs only occasionally, as when discussions of geopolitics come up. There's nothing terribly new in the book about the competition between government agencies or between competitive nations, but even given the "usual suspects" aspect of the story, the author keeps you guessing.
This author is out to make you think and feel about certain topics, sure, but first and foremost he's out to entertain you. And I appreciate that....more info
- Great Spy and suspense story
I loved this book. I like spy/CIA books anyway so this one was an easy choice. It is going to be made into a movie by George Clooney so that shows how good it is. The characters are great and the turn pager suspense will keep you reading late into the night...more info
- The New Le Carre
Milo Weaver, Company man, catches up with The Tiger,international terrorist, being held in a backwater Tennessee jail on charges of domestic abuse. Left alone with the feared suspect, who turns out to be, of all things, a Christian Scientist, Milo is propelled back into the identity he thought he had left behind-Tourist.
In the Black Ops world of the CIA there are Tourists and there are Travel Agents. For the last six years Milo has been a Travel Agent, directing several Tourists around the world who are literally licensed to kill if necessary to protect the national interest. But now Milo must again engage in Tourism first on behalf of the Agency and then to survive in a world gone mad.
In a tale stretching across the Atlantic into Europe and Africa, and then back to America, Milo undertakes a private mission to determine who killed his closest friend and why. Even as Milo is on the run, he questions from whom-his own Agency or the Department of Homeland Security?
Spy thrillers lost their edginess with the end of the Cold War, or so it seemed. In fact the real spies, technicolor versions of the dour George Smiley, focused on issues involving real security like oil and nuclear weapons. These new spies suffer Smiley's deep distrust of anything they don't discover for themselves. In the end, this kind of distrust is toxic to the things they value most-family and solitude.
So here is a toast to the first great spy novel of the twenty-first century and to Olen Steinhauer-the new Le Carre....more info
I loved this novel. It was complete in that it covered not just one major time period in a character's life but it carried through to a conclusion of many incidents. I hope that's not too confusing. I loved that the main character was married and had responsibilities beyond his career. I love how his relationship played out. I loved the realism shown throughout the novel in regard to him and his wife. I loved the lengths he went to for the ones he loved and I loved reading about their responses to him as a person. A fulfilling read indeed, I loved it....more info
- Wheels within Wheels: What is the Truth?
Wheels within Wheels: What is the Truth?
Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist is a literary tour de force. An espionage thriller of the mega kind. Complex, intriguing, complicated, yet deliciously captivating as it draws the reader into Steinhauer's web of layered, international espionage. This is not your simple spy novel and requires the reader to pay attention especially in the beginning as the story begins slowly and can delude the reader into a sort of misdirected apathy. Then bang, Steinhauer hits you between the eyes and it is off to the espionage races. There are many layers to this fascinating novel, and at times too many which can cause the reader to bog down. But like an Older Le Carre or Ludlum thriller, it will pay the reader big literary dividends to stick it out. It is very difficult to give a synopsis of the plot as whatever I say could be a spoiler in some fashion. Very generally, it deals with a CIA field operative who works in the agency's ultra secretive "Tourist" Division. Like all literary spies, his life becomes a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The reader's job is to unravel this man called Milo Weaver, a.k.a Charles Alexander, and see where the story goes. Good Luck.
Superb character development on all levels. Like I alluded to, this is a complicated story with many complex characters. Mr. Seinhauer does a wonderful job of developing most of the characters that he introduces. There are so many that at times it can get a bit confusing so again the reader must pay attention and not get lost in the literary detritus. It is amazing to me how Mr. Seinhauer was able to develop so many different plot characters. All were germane to this wonderful mystery.
No gratuitous sex, language or violence. Good writing does not need any.
Hearty recommend. Well worth the price of a hardback. Well done Mr. Steinhauer, I am eagerly awaiting your next book. ...more info
- Weak Kindle edition
The novel is fine, a well-done Ludlum-style thriller.
The Kindle edition is an insult. There are many, many typos/OCR errors. There is no table of contents. The book is perfectly readable anyway, of course. But it is clear the Kindle edition was never even proof-read by a human being - lower quality than any of the free public domain books I've read.
Amazon needs to improve the quality of their product....more info
- A Rather Bland But Interesting Enough Spy Novel
I like spy novels but The Tourist just did not cut it for me. The novel was engaging enough but rather average. It was not a real page turner.
The plot revolves around a rather interesting, odd, but somewhat likable character Milo Weaver. He was a "tourist" in the CIA, or an agent without a home, just kind of wandering around doing what needed to be done for The Agency. Having spent years as an assassin, chasing down those who the CIA wanted chased down, and doing all the dirty work one associates with a down and dirty secret service operative, Milo got strung out and almost strung up. He finally graduates to a desk job, gets married and has an adoptive daughter. Milo is liking the life of a spy with a home, behind a desk, with a family.
Milo's lifelong pursuit, both as a tourist and as a desk jockey, has been chasing down an assassin called "The Tiger." One day he is sent to investigate a report that The Tiger has been captured. But poor Milo, ever the one to blunder into trouble, is set up by The Tiger to chase down his a man who has "killed" him by injecting him with the HIV virus. As the story unravels it turns out that Milo's close friend in the CIA, Tina, has also been chasing the tiger by the tail, but in a way that puts her under suspicion for being a double agent. Milo doesn't believe it and gets further involved as he tries to determine whether or not she is innocent of this charge.
Then the action gets really crazy as Milo is chased by numerous agencies, from within the CIA and without, for actions that are revealed in the book but would be spoilers here. It gets pretty intricate, but never all that interesting. In fact, the most interesting part of the entire novel is when his wife, who knows he is in some secret agency but never quite knows what, gets dragged into his mess and finds out the real truth about his past. All the intrigue and drama, though, is rather bland for a spy novel. And while it's not boilerplate, in fact it is quite unique, it just did not click with this reader as being particularly believable or entertaining.
At the end, well, you will have to read the book to find that out, but suffice it to say that this is set up for another Milo adventure. I'm not so sure I'll be going on it with him, but I may....more info
- Good but not great
I will give Olen Steinhaur an A for effort in writing the tourist. He is attempting to reestablish the spy thriller which has all but disappeared for a number of years now. The Milo Weaver character is interesting in both his seeming ordinary appearance and the lethal skill he uses in his job. Like all mystery writers alcohol and to a lesser degree drugs abound but unlike most of his contemporaries Steinhauer uses it as a coping mechanism.
Still the book lags in a number of places and seems too long. It is certainly a thinking persons thriller which means that there are points when there is much dialog and virtually no action. It can often seem muddled and confusing which is its greatest weakness. I think Mr. Steinhaur tries too hard to make The Tourist memorable and in fact the opposite often happens. Still I think it is an enjoyable read but something that requires time and not just a quick sit down at the beach. ...more info
- A Demanding Novel, but an Ultimately Satisfying One
I enjoyed Olen Steinhauer's THE TOURIST, which is openly being compared to classics of the spy genre like John LeCarre's THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. While I am no judge of whether Steinhauer lives up to LeCarre's legacy, this novel is certainly a well written thriller.
THE TOURIST, which deals with an undercover CIA operative named Milo Weaver, does not qualify as light reading. Its multi-layered plot is remarkably complex and demanding, and many of the early scenes are deliberately disorienting. This is the type of novel where you don't understand the motivations and histories of many key characters until the last fifty pages or so. If you're a cerebral reader who enjoys a challenging storyline, you will no doubt find this novel hugely enjoyable. Other readers, I'm guessing, may find themselves frustrated.
Steinhauer is unquestionably an intelligent writer, and has designed a plot filled with a large number of twists and double crosses that are genuinely surprising. Although THE TOURIST is billed as an action-packed novel, it's really more dialogue-driven, and there are too many scenes with characters offering long-winded explanations of what is really (or supposedly) going on. The politics of this book are also rather predictable and heavy-handed, although readers who believe the worst of the CIA will no doubt will pleased.
All of that being said, Steinhauer is a good enough writer to keep me interested until the very end. Although THE TOURIST's plot is convoluted, it is fast-paced and filled with interesting moments. The main character is also well drawn, and I found him both complex and sympathetic. This novel definitely succeeds as a page-turner, and I finished it in just a few sittings.
Overall, THE TOURIST is a successful effort, and is definitely one of the best novels I've read so far this year. This type of novel isn't for everyone, but I finished the book satisfied. This is apparently the first of a series, and I look forward to future installments....more info
- Complicated... and a Sloooow Read
The Tourist has a complicated story line, with too many characters for my taste. I had a hard time getting into the plot, and because of that, and the number of characters, this was a slow read... The story was not what I expected the book to be (the cover suggests this is a "First Class Spy Novel" well, sorry, it wasn't for me....more info
- Best spy novel since The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
Wow. What a great book. I thought when I started this novel that it would take me a long time to read. Not so... I finished it in 3 days... could not put it down. It is up there with Eye of the Needle and The Tailor of Panama. Great protagonist... he is so intriguing, you just can't help yourself finding out more about him. This is definately the best modern, post 9/11 spy novel I have read... I put it up there with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold... which, by the way, is referred to in this novel... excellent. ...more info
- Good read if you like dark and hopeless
As it turns out, I do not like dark and hopeless. Steinhauer is a cut above as a writer. He does little things, like, "Milo folded his knuckles under his chin." You pause a second, then realize what he has written and you enjoy his putting a commonplace gesture in original terms.
There are many good things like that in his writing, but then it can also be jerky, information and descriptions coming at you in fits and starts.
A writer chooses what extraneous items will fill out his storyline. I didn't like much of what Steinhauer chose, such as a child seeing her step-father's penis; or Milo saying his storage locker is safe and then it is not safe -- with no corroborating evidence; taking the family to Disney World in the middle of chaos (like seeing a tornado coming and walking into a nearby tent); or someone of Angela's savvy taking sleeping pills. The strangest of all choices was having the most prominent villain be a Christian Scientist. What? A Mary Baker Eddy hit man? I don't buy it.
Steinhauer writes as if he expects the reader to know more than they do. At first this is flattering, then one begins to hope there are explications further along in the prose, and finally one simply becomes a tad irritated.
But here's the real irritant -- although some people may find this quite heady: There is no "omniscient" voice. Steinhauer writes as if he, the author, doesn't know any more than his main characters know. It's a bit unnerving. You don't know if you are in trustworthy hands or not. Considering that pretty much everyone in the book -- including the innocents -- is brought down by despair and hopelessness, perhaps you are not. There are no happy endings for anyone in this book. Now, we all know there is no such thing as a permanent happy ending, but we also know that lots of people have them in the various circumstances and trials of life. It's literally as well as figuratively, overkill.
One little tic: Milo locks the bathroom door from the inside, escapes out a window then comes round and asks the apartment dweller if he will go get Milo's knapsack which Milo left in the bathroom. Apartment dweller does so, the author apparently having forgot that he wouldn't have been able to because the door was locked.
Europe's cities come alive in Steinhauer's hands, but Milo never quite makes it to full reality. A character may be mysterious and secretive to everyone around him in a book, but not to the reader....more info
- Tour de force! The spy thriller genre has a new heavy weight!
I love a good spy novel and this one paid off in spades. The author has put together an original look at the genre with a great hook and follows it up with great action and thrills. This is the story of CIA agent Milo Weaver aka a "Tourist." A Tourist is a special type of CIA field agent, agents with no name and no place they call home, doing things that can only be performed by such shadowy figures. Things their government never want to be connected with, but want accomplished. Milo retired from being a Tourist six years earlier and now has a home and family and a stable life. But of course his past comes back to haunt him, and this is the great hook! Milo is entangled in a far-reaching plot as he is a suspect in a murder investigation. That forces him to leave the country in search of evidence that can clear his name. The plot involves terrorism, espionage, murder and foreign oil deals. The book has all the expected heart stopping action and suspense as it jets the reader around the world. But what really made it something better than the norm was its introspective look at the main character Milo, and the effect his life of danger has on his psyche. I hear George Clooney has purchased the film rights to this book and it should make a bang up movie! I wish he'd get the rights to the other "Tourist" thriller A Tourist In The Yucatan!...more info
- Most of the book is people telling you the story line.
My first thought in reading this book was the characters are too stereotyped. A married CIA agent in a bad marriage, his long suffering wife, his fatherly boss, the bad administrator trying to take over and so on. And of course CIA itself. Why must every CIA agent be in a bad marriage, is it a spy novel rule? There are numerous subplots, and the names to go with them, so that it gets confusing at times to remember is this Russian the good one or the bad one, how about this agent? The subplots often don't seem to add to the story, just to have more subplots. It doesn't help that you read a few paragraphs of a chapter before you realize its either set before or after the last chapter.
The book often reminded me of the show Burn Notice, when the author would say things such as "when you're a spy you learn to look for the exits when you first enter a building". I even found myself using the Burn Notice character, Michael Weston's voice when reading.
My main criticisms are, too much of the book was simply two people talking to each other, for example during an interrogation, to explain or extend or rehash the plot. By the time you get to the last rehash it becomes just brutal to get through as you are on page 400. The ending was about what you would predict, no surprises, no insight. The last interrogation leading to the ending just seems unrealistic. The main antagonist was able to manipulate everyone yet falls for a simple ploy anyone can see through. The ending is an anti-climax, no climax at all.
I'm sorry, but to compare this to John le Carre, like the cover of the book does, seems more publisher's hype than reality.
- Brilliant ...
I wasn't a big fan of espionage until reading this baby. Olen Steinhauer is a terrific writer ... he's got clever chops and all the essentials hitting on all pistons (dialogue, narrative, introspection) ... you name it, this book has it. It's a lesson in current affairs as well as a spy thriller ... a page turner loaded with great characters, action and page turning twists and turns. The essential for me to most great fiction is an open ending and this one is perfectly bittersweet.
Clooney better do Milo justice ...
We should all READ amici and this baby should be read pronto. The Tourist rocks and rolls ... and Steinhauer is the real deal....more info
- Tour de Force
"The Tourist" by Olen Steinhauer is a tour de force.
The heavy length of the novel (some 400 pages) belies the lightness and charm of the writing, which is clear and unfrilly throughout. Pared down, precise, and modern in the best sense. I did not run across a word better left out. Dialog is prominent and excellent.
The Tourist of the title is a poor man's Double Oh Seven. Or, I might say, a family man's Double Oh Seven. After many years at a desk job, family man is what he would like to be, living with his wife and daughter, but he is thwarted at every turn, being drawn back directly into the business. Action and danger are nonstop.
A supersecret Company (i.e., CIA) sub-organization, euphemistically presents itself as a Travel Agency, employing untold numbers of Travel Agents who are spies and handlers of spies throughout the world. The operatives do travel and are called -- and call themselves -- Tourists. Seeing sights is not on their itinerary. Their business is assassinations under orders from higher up. The Agency likes guaranteed success by outsourcing, when possible, to proficient professionals with proven records. Who know how to make the blame fall where it politically does the most good. Nasty business.
Spying is lying. Spies tell lies and live lies. Storytelling is deep down and across the board. Being constantly alert, questioning even closest confederates, having a good degree of paranoia are essential. Decades ago my dad used to tell me: "Your friend of today may be your enemy of tomorrow." Good advice in this case.
Are there any admirable characters here? Not really. Interesting, to be sure. None of the majors is without serious flaws. Many are detestable. All are complex, believable, and well crafted. There is no call for affection for any of them, with perhaps two innocent minor exceptions. Individiuals are subordinate to personal empires. All are less important than maintaining funding for survival of the organization.
An intellectual, highly literate, and suspenseful thriller.