Reviews for American Spy

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #2
*Starred Review* When we last saw Milo Weaver, the spy had been shot on the steps of his Brooklyn brownstone (The Nearest Exit, 2010). This book begins with Chinese spymaster Xin Zhu, the man who crippled the CIA's Department of Tourism and engineered Weaver's shooting. But Zhu's coups haven't earned him accolades, and he's fighting a power struggle in the Guoanbu. Weaver is alive, and his former boss, Alan Drummond, wants his help taking revenge on Zhu. Weaver says no. Drummond's plan is foolhardy--his agents are dead and his department no longer exists--and Weaver no longer wants to be "part of the machine" that destroys people. When Drummond proceeds without him, however, Weaver finds he is already involved. The best spy novelists have long shaded their stories with the gray of moral ambiguity, and Steinhauer works in that tradition while deconstructing James Bond even further. Political considerations play almost no role in this dizzying, dazzling array of hidden agendas and confused allegiances; all motivations are personal, and the ultimate goal is survival. Weaver may be haunted by the human cost of the machine, but he doesn't know how to turn it off, either. Another must-read from the best novelist working in the tradition of John le Carré. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2012 March
Required reading for spy fans

Espionage must surely be one of the most difficult fields from which to make a career change. If novels can be believed, spies either meet their ends in a spectacularly gory fashion; get promoted into intelligence admin; or treasonously go to bat for the opposing team. Milo Weaver, the reluctant protagonist of Olen Steinhauer’s An American Spy, opts for none of the above. He wants simply to be left alone, to enjoy the pleasures of family life and to work at some nonlethal sort of livelihood. Alas, it is not to be. When Weaver becomes aware that his family is in danger, he solicits the help of his diplomat father. Upon returning to his New York apartment, however, Weaver finds his father dead on the living room floor and his family missing without a trace. There are a number of agents in play, any of whom had motive and opportunity to orchestrate the murder and kidnapping, and it is nigh impossible for the reader to determine who is on whose side until the final pages have been turned. Serious, gripping and lightning-paced, An American Spy should be required reading for fans of espionage fiction.

I have long held that Scandinavian mystery novels are among the finest on the planet, and Leif G.W. Persson’s police procedural, Another Time, Another Life, strongly supports that assertion. The novel begins in 1975, when a group of terrorists take over the West German Embassy in Stockholm. Their plan literally blows up in their faces and the siege ends badly—both for the suspects and for two hostages. Fourteen years later, a high-profile murder rocks Stockholm. Detectives Anna Holt and Bo Jarnebring are assigned to the case, but it is grossly mishandled by the powers that be, and the case disappears into the annals of unsolved crimes. Fast forward once again, to 1999, and the shelved investigation is reopened; newly unearthed papers implicate the 1989 murder victim in the West German Embassy case, and once again Holt and Jarnebring are brought aboard. It would be impossible to summarize the complexities of this story here, but I’ll say this: If you enjoy Scandinavian mysteries, this one will be right up your alley. If you haven’t been hooked by the subgenre, Another Time, Another Life should do the trick.

Irish author Gerard O’Donovan is back with the much-anticipated follow-up to The Priest, entitled Dublin Dead. O’Donovan has only improved upon his strengths, developing the characters of National Drugs Unit cop Mike Mulcahy and his sidekick, reporter Siobhan Fallon (with whom Mulcahy has a convoluted and strained relationship, to say the least). This time out, the pair find themselves working on parallel investigations: Mulcahy on a huge cocaine discovery, and Fallon on a missing-persons case that has the look of murder about it. The two storylines give the appearance of meeting as they approach the novel’s climax, and indeed, there is a commonality of “usual suspects” in the twin investigations. So, reluctantly, Mulcahy takes Fallon into his confidence, and together the two begin to tie up loose ends. Problem is, the loose ends aren’t cooperating at all. A quick note: Those who have read The Priest will undoubtedly be queued up to purchase Dublin Dead on release day. If you haven’t read The Priest, I recommend starting there to provide backstory for O’Donovan’s latest.

As Michael Robotham’s Bleed for Me opens, 14-year-old Sienna Hegarty stands accused of patricide. She has denounced her father—a decorated ex-cop—as a pedophile, but she insists that she had nothing to do with his killing. On the other hand, she was covered with his blood, and she has no memory of the time surrounding the event. Or so she says. Hegarty is the best friend of the daughter of clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin—who doesn’t have it easy, either. O’Loughlin suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and every day he can feel the disease increasing its grip on his life, his limbs stage-managed against his will by some malevolent puppeteer. His wife has left him, seemingly taking their family and most of their friends with her as spoils of the separation agreement. But O’Loughlin is drawn to Sienna’s case. Along with retired policeman Vincent Ruiz, he tries to make sense of a convoluted and lethal investigation, with collateral damage at every turn. Bleed for Me works on many levels, combining the insights of a trained psychologist; the savvy street smarts and irreverent observations of a retired cop; and intricate plotting from a first-rate author.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #2
In Steinhauer's superb spy novel, Milo Weaver (The Nearest Exit, 2010, etc.), in from the cold, wants to stay that way, but no one will let him. Some say he was born to be a spy. Others don't say anything at all about him, because the fact is Milo Weaver--maximally understated, eminently ignorable--is cellophane. Those who know spy-craft best see virtue in this of course, and he's recruited for the Tourists, an elite, extremely secret branch of the CIA. In time, Milo becomes remarkable, a great American spy. And then the unthinkable happens. Before one can say clandestine, the Tourists are converted to history--33 of them, virtually the entire department, wiped out at the command of the wicked and wily Xin Zhu, a spymaster highly placed in the Guoanbu, the intelligence arm of the People's Republic of China. Milo survives, but is suddenly jobless. In from the cold by accident as it were, he finds himself basking in familial warmth: beautiful, loving wife, adorable six year old daughter. As seldom before, in a way he never expected to be, Milo's content. Not so for Alan Drummond, his boss. Rabid for vengeance, Drummond wants the aid and all-out support of his ace agent and will do anything to get it. As it happens, Xin Zhu is also interested in the talented Mr. Weaver and will do anything to turn him. And so begins a geopolitical game of chess--with Milo a pawn, destined, soon, to be half-forgotten--between a pair of opponents consumed by mutual detestation. But in chess, as in life, if certain pawns are half-forgotten they can become powerful enough to change the game. Thickets of tricky conspiracies, swamps full of secret agendas: Reader, you're in le Carré-land, guided there unerringly by one of the best of the newer crop. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 October #2

Seeking revenge for his son's death, Chinese intelligence agent Xin Zhu has managed to infiltrate the CIA, leaving 33 agents dead--and agent Milo Weaver is expected to help the CIA get even. The third Milo Weaver thriller from a big best-selling author who's been within spitting distance of the Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity awards--and more. Don't miss.

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Library Journal Reviews 2012 February #1

When a brutal Chinese spymaster "deactivates" 33 agents in the CIA's Tourism black-ops unit, survivors Alan Drummond and his sidekick, Milo Weaver, are left jobless. The men seem to be working at cross-purposes as they separately battle to overcome fierce strikes against them. This time, Xin Zhu threatens their wives and offspring, and no obvious ally is a safe bet. Set in pre-Olympics 2008, this suspense-laden novel weaves Chinese extremists, love stories, and UN spies into a high-pressure cyclone of mayhem and betrayal for Milo and those he cares about. VERDICT This follow-up to The Tourist and The Nearest Exit proves the adage that good things come in threes. With Milo Weaver as the conscience-worn hero, Steinhauer does for Chinese-Western intrigue what John le Carré did for the Cold War era of international espionage. A mesmerizing series for dedicated readers of spy fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 9/23/11.]--Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 January #1

Set in 2008, bestseller Steinhauer's excellent if initially convoluted third thriller featuring Milo Weaver (after 2010's The Nearest Exit) finds Weaver no longer a member of the CIA's deeply clandestine Department of Tourism, which was shut down after Chinese spy Xin Zhu, motivated more by personal vengeance than allegiance to his government, orchestrated the assassination of 33 of its agents one by one around the world. When Alan Drummond, Weaver's boss at the now defunct department, disappears from his London hotel, Weaver gets on his trail--a matter that becomes much more urgent after Drummond's wife and daughter are kidnapped. Steinhauer is particularly good at articulating contemporary spy craft--the mechanics of surveillance and intelligence in the digital age and the depth of paranoia endemic to the trade. In addition, his ability to create characters with genuine emotions and conflicts, coupled with an insightful and often poetic writing style, set him apart in the world of espionage fiction. 125,000 first printing. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company. (Mar.)

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