January 28, 2012

THE TOURIST

by Olen Steinhauer
Minotaur Books, Kindle Edition

Review by J. S. Colley

If you came here hoping for a review of the book based on the movie starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, you’ll be disappointed. (Was there a book based on that move? I don’t know.) The only similarity between that movie and this book is they are both thrillers. Having said that, I think George Clooney has rights to make this book into a movie. What he’s going to title it, I don’t know, since some other movie producer already beat him to “The Tourist.”

I picked up The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer on the recommendation of a friend. (Okay, I admit, I thought it was a book based on That Movie, but my friend soon set me straight.) I used to be a fan of spy novels, but ever since Reagan challenged Russia to “tear down this wall,” I’ve stopped reading them. Oh, wait; wasn’t it called the Soviet Union back then? I think so. Now I’m getting really confused.

In any case, I’m glad my friend pointed me toward this book because it is one of the better spy novels that I’ve read.

So, here’s the gist of it: Charles Alexander is an operative known as Milo Weaver to a US intelligence agency that nicknames their operatives “tourists,” for obvious reasons. The book starts with Charles contemplating suicide, but stuff happens and it never gets done. The Dexedrine addicted ex-tourist is pulled back into a life he thought he’d left behind.

Yeah, yeah, I know. There are lots of clich├ęs — the failed marriage and the kid he never has time to see. Maybe because I haven’t read a spy novel in such a long time, this didn’t bother me one bit. The characterizations are great and the novel is well-written.

In fact, I liked it so much, I read the next book in Steinhauer’s series, called The Nearest Exit. I recommend them both.

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