Milo Weaver is a "Tourist" for the "Company," an undercover agent for the CIA. And he's a good one. Known as the legendary Charles Alexander, Milo's time in service has exhausted him and suicide is contemplated daily. After an especially tough case in Venice that leaves him shot, Milo decides to say good-bye to his old world and take a desk in New York to start a new life with his new wife, Tina, and their daughter, Stephanie. When an old friend is labeled as a treasonous double agent, Milo has no choice but to clear his friend's name and his own by going back to the undercover life he left six years ago.
I was looking for a good spy novel that would take me to the many corners of the world and simultaneously keep me on the edge of my seat. The Tourist certainly did that and more and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It's been a little while since I felt like reading a spy novel (you may recall, I was disappointed with Dr. No by Ian Fleming a few months back), so when I picked this one up at the library the other day, I held my breath. I needn't have worried. While I don't think it's a spy novel breaking new ground, it certainly is extremely effective in sweeping the reader up into exotic locales like Venice, France, and Switzerland and there is just the right amount of heart-pumping scenes where you wonder if people are who they really say they are.
My only gripe is (and I'm certain this will sound insensitive, so my apologies in advance) that I was less interested in Milo's family than I probably should have been and was much more content when the pages would move back to the edge-of-your-seats spy scenes. Don't get me wrong, Milo's family provided that needed contrast between the life Milo loves, with the one he is forced to move back into, in order to protect his name and his family, but his wife and daughter just weren't interesting enough for me to be swept away in their stories. I'm hoping that the later novels in the trilogy offer even more depth for them because they both were equally tough characters, and Stephanie was quite the funny, sarcastic child. Milo himself was a thoroughly unique character, and you can't not love a spy who has a slight obsession with French singers from the 1960s.
All in all, The Tourist is a satisfying and intelligent spy-thriller that won't disappoint as the whirlwind travel around the world brings you ultimately back to the United States where Milo must trust the very people that he never thought he would need to in order to clear his name. With family secrets and old Cold War events blending with the new threats of today, Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist is an excellent first in a series that will whet your appetite to get the second installment immediately.
The trilogy in order:
- The Tourist (2009)
- The Nearest Exit (2010)
- The American Spy (2012)
FTC Disclosure: I checked this book out from my local Virginia Beach Public Library.
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: 2009
About the Author (from his website)
Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia and has lived throughout the US and Europe. He is the author of The Bridge of Sighs, which began a five-book sequence chronicling Cold War Eastern Europe. The Tourist is book one in a trilogy. Steinhauer lives in Hungary with his wife and daughter.
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