Monday, February 11, 2013

Listened: "The Nearest Exit" by Olen Steinhauer

Listened: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer, 2010, Overdrive download and I am not listing the ISBN.

Pretty damn good.  I am really enjoying the series.  Espionage with real politic and issues and policies that effect individuals.  Spoilers below.

Milo Weaver ended the last novel trying to mend his marriage and quitting the CIA.  This begins with Milo back to work as a super spy, a Tourist, in Europe.  Milo went back to work after hitting bumps during marriage counseling and his wife's anger.  Milo is proving his worth in the field after an absence of seven years by doing increasingly difficult jobs.  Milo has two big tasks in a row: raise a few million bucks to keep the Tourist Bureau funded, and murder a 12-year-old girl.

Milo does rob a Swiss art museum but does not want to kill the girl.  Milo researches the girl and her Moldovan immigrant family now living in Germany.  Milo calls his U.N. employed Russian father - still a secret from the CIA - and asks for help.  Milo's dad is resistant.  Milo's dad is more upset about Milo's theft of paintings than the murder of a child.  Milo kidnaps the girl and turns her over to Milo's dad to hold for a couple months.  The girl escapes and is murdered anyway.

Meanwhile, an American reporter in Hungary receives a letter from Milo's former supervisor who was killed in book one.  The letter details the Sudan murder plot from the first book that ended in lots of dead people.  American Journalist starts researching the letter.  American Journalist comes home to a guy in his apartment who throws American Journalist off the apartment balcony.  The letter said to trust only Milo.

More things happen.  A mole is suspected when a Bulgarian (I think he is Bulgarian but the nationality is irrelevant) says the Chinese have a mole.  Cameras recorded Milo talking to the girl before the kidnapping and German intelligence is hot for him.  American Journalist survived the drop, went into hiding, and started research with help of Chinese spies.  The motive for the girl's murder is revealed.  Milo's Tourist job and empathy are incompatible.  Mole hunt goes on.  Weasel U.S. Senator who ran the Sudan operation is causing trouble.  Milo wants to rejoin his family.  Everything ends happily ever after with Milo shot, many Tourists dead, Milo's boss - an mostly ethical man - fired, and a murdered girl.

1. Bizarro world where the murder of a 12-year-old immigrant is considered not just acceptable but advantageous.  People without empathy - Milo considers how that lack of empathy is a needed trait for Tourists - who consider the robbery of an art museum to be more insulting and violating than killing a girl.
2.  Political shenanigans.  German intelligence severed ties with the CIA when the CIA was found to be running heroin.  The relationship between German intelligence and the CIA is to be repaired by killing the girl.  The girl had been kidnapped when she was 11-years-old, forced into prostitution, and screwed by a high ranking German spy boss.  The CIA used a videotape of this to blackmail the German.  The German asked them to solve the problem.  "Sure, we'll get rid of the girl and that will solve the problem."
3.  Weasel Senator appears, to me, to be a dilettante.  I think my view on this is covered by one of my WI senators, Ron Johnson.  I think Johnson is a jackass.
4.  Tourists are like a realistic James Bond.  They have no fixed address.  Assignments vary from surveillance to courier duties to assassination.  Tourists are super secret, travel the world, stay in nice hotels, and their cell phones do fancy stuff.  Tourists are single, drink a lot, and used to violence and sudden death.
5.  Some bad guys are punished or killed.  Others get away scott free.
6. Decisions are made with a balance scale: these guys die so these guys get money, this girl dies so this guy can die.

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