Summary from Olen Steinhauer's website:
After the dissolution of the Department of Tourism, Milo’s old boss, Alan Drummond, grows obsessed with revenge against the man who’s destroyed his life: the Chinese spymaster Xin Zhu. When Alan disappears in London, having traveled around the planet, to reach the UK, clues are few and questions numerous.
In China, Xin Zhu tracks evidence of a conspiracy against him (and his young wife) as he tries to survive the intrigues of Beijing politics.
In Germany, Erika Schwartz comes across signs that Tourism may not be as dead as it seemed to be.
In the center of it all is Milo Weaver, trying to stay alive and protect his family in Brooklyn.In the first book, The Tourist, Milo has acquired a wife and a step-daughter. Since family life and the job of a Tourist cannot coexist, he has a desk job and works as a support person in the department. Throughout the series, his main goal is to keep his family safe. He would be happy to leave the CIA behind and become a normal citizen, but the Department of Tourism is hard to break away from.
The Nearest Exit. Although the fact that his father was a spymaster explains some factors in Milo's life and personality, it was an element that seemed a little over the top in that novel. In An American Spy, that story line seems to work better.
These books are full of action. I do prefer quieter, more cerebral spy novels, but it does keep the pace up. The plots border on the unbelievable, but that is fairly common in spy fiction, and I have no problem suspending my disbelief. I like the depth of the characters and the exploration of the conflicts in their lives within this framework.
Steinhauer's spy fiction has been compared to that of Graham Greene, Len Deighton, and John le Carré. I haven't read enough of Greene to speak to that. I would say he is closer to le Carré if we must make comparisons. On the other hand, in Deighton's Bernard Samson series, Bernard's family, especially his two children, are always his main concern. But, the point here is that if you like the writings of Deighton or le Carré, you definitely should give the Tourist trilogy a try. It is best if the books are read in the order published.
If you shy away from spy thrillers, you might find Steinhauer's other series a better fit. Some of those novels do have some of the elements of espionage fiction, but are historical fiction as well. The author describes them as "five novels that traced the history of an unnamed, fictional Eastern European country during its communist period, from 1948 until 1989, one book for each decade. The novels began as crime fiction, morphing gradually into espionage." There is not one main character but the characters are linked from one book to another.
The titles are, in order of publication:
The Bridge of Sighs
36 Yalta Boulevard (The Vienna Assignment in the UK)
Liberation Movements (The Istanbul Variations in the UK)
See these reviews:
- At the Los Angeles Times, a review by Paula L. Woods. I am currently reading the first book in her Charlotte Justice series.
- Bill Selnes review at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan.
Publisher: Minotaur Books, 2012
Length: 386 pages
Format: Trade paperback
Series: The Tourist trilogy #3
Setting: US, UK, China, Germany
Genre: Espionage fiction
Source: I purchased my copy.