Thursday, August 30, 2012

Listened to: "The Tourist" by Olen Steinhauer

Listened: The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer, 2009, download.

Spy novel.   Nothing new in the plot with a spy is set-up after stumbling into conspiracy by upper government officials, but the story is well done.  I liked it.  As with every other spy novel there is plenty of plot turns and twists.  Information is uncovered.  Dead ends are not.  Deception is detailed and deadly.  Friends are not.  Enemies are unknown.  Information comes and goes and things are revealed during the last quarter of the novel.  Spoilers follow.

For several years Milo Weaver has been a Tourist for the CIA.  A Tourist is, essentially, a 00 agent.  Tourists do all sorts of spy work including occasional murders and assassinations.  Milo's beat is wider Europe and the stress of the job has turned him into a pep pill popping suicidal agent.  In 2001 Milo is tasked to work with another agent, an old pal, to track down a station chief who disappeared with $3 million.  Milo and the other agent find and kill the Chief but Milo is shot.

Fast forward seven years.  Milo now works for the Tourism Bureau based in NYC that administers all the Tourists.  Milo is happily married with a step daughter he loves and cares for.  Milo has cleaned up but still overdrinks.  He is tasked to follow an international assassin, Tiger, who slipped in via Mexico.  Milo catches up with Tiger in South Carolina where Tiger commits suicide with a cyanide pill in his teeth.  Before the suicide Tiger confesses he is ill with AIDS and about to die.  Tiger let Milo catch him so Tiger could let Milo know someone gave him a complete dossier about Milo, Milo's job, and Milo's personal life.

Milo is next tasked to help see if Old Pal from 2001 is a giving secrets to the Chinese.  More things happen. Old Pal is murdered.  Milo is suspected.  Milo continues work on the case under guidance of his boss.  Milo split between demanding job and demanding family.  Milo ends up on the run.  Milo's wife is annoying.  Milo figures out Boss is bad guy.  Boss murdered.  Milo gets everything figured out after some serious persecution by the CIA.  Unhappy ending with Milo shut-out by his wife.

1.  Narration was not so good.  Narrator was awful at women's voices.  I thought the narrator's characterizations of Milo's wife, Tina, made her come off sounding like a harpy.  In the end, Tina is a cunt.
2.  Milo is a tragic character.  His mother gave him up to his aunt so the mom could fight the international revolution.  Milo's mom was mentally ill and hung herself in a German jail cell.  Adoptive parents killed in car crash when he is 15.  His manipulative Russian spy father shows up and takes him to a completely new country, new culture and new language.  Milo returns as an 18 year old and is recruited by the CIA as a college student.  Milo has to deny his father exists to work.  Milo's work as a Tourist leave him a wreck.  He rescues himself through though a job change and a beginning a family.
3.  Gratuitous 60's French pop music fandom by Milo.
4.  Gun nut gripe of a 9mm (implying Luger) Makarov.
5.  "She was just a goddamn librarian after all."
6.  Awful Texas accents by narrator.
7.  Milo's observations of a characterless Disney - all the restaurants the same, etc.
8.  Gratuitous Nokia.  Geez, was that a product placement?
9.  "The Library's flexible when you're the Director."

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