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The Department of Tourism


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The Department of Tourism


After finishing the Yalta Boulevard Sequence of Cold War novels, I made a conscious decision to move into the contemporary world. This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but I'd spent my entire professional career writing about a time and place rather distant, and so the idea of moving to "today" was a bit disconcerting. However, it was also necessary, for I was starting to fear I was escaping the confusing present to hide out in the past. So I jumped feet-first into the post 9/11 world with the CIA's Department of Tourism, and Milo Weaver, a spy who just happened to be my first American main character.

The Tourist
The Nearest Exit
An American Spy

While I began the Weaver books thinking of them as a trilogy, anyone who's read An American Spy knows that I've left the door open for more books. Those certainly will come, but for the moment I'm moving onto other stories. If you've read An American Spy, you might even suspect the reason: I was exhausted by the end of writing it!

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The Tourist (2009)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES 
SOUNDTRACK, the iMix (requires iTunes)

"As rich and intriguing as the best of Le Carré, Deighton or Graham Greene, Steinhauer’s complex, moving spy novel is perfect for our uncertain, emotionally fraught times." - Paula Woods, The Los Angeles Times

"Here's the best spy novel I've ever read that wasn't written by John le Carré." - Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly

New York Times bestseller - IndieNext list selection

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The Tourist (2009)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES 
SOUNDTRACK, the iMix (requires iTunes)

"As rich and intriguing as the best of Le Carré, Deighton or Graham Greene, Steinhauer’s complex, moving spy novel is perfect for our uncertain, emotionally fraught times." - Paula Woods, The Los Angeles Times

"Here's the best spy novel I've ever read that wasn't written by John le Carré." - Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly

New York Times bestseller - IndieNext list selection

Milo Weaver used to be a “tourist” for the CIA—an undercover agent with no home, no identity—but he’s since retired from the field to become a middle-level manager at the CIA’s New York headquarters. He’s acquired a wife, a daughter, and a brownstone in Brooklyn, and he’s tried to leave his old life of secrets and lies behind.

But when the arrest of a long-sought-after assassin sets off an investigation into one of Milo’s oldest colleagues and exposes new layers of intrigue in his old cases, he has no choice but to go back undercover and find out who’s holding the strings once and for all.

RECEPTION

Mr. Steinhauer, the two-time Edgar Award nominee who can be legitimately mentioned alongside John le Carré, he displays a high degree of what Mr. le Carré’s characters like to call tradecraft. If he’s as smart as “The Tourist” makes him sound, he’ll bring back Milo Weaver for a curtain call. —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Although readers can hope to see it on the screen, “The Tourist” should be savored now. As rich and intriguing as the best of Le Carré, Deighton or Graham Greene, Steinhauer’s complex, moving spy novel is perfect for our uncertain, emotionally fraught times. —Paula Woods, The Los Angeles Times

The Tourist … raises a lot of questions, but only answers enough to keep the story moving briskly and the reader’s curiosity stoked through to the end. —Jackson West, Penthouse

[I]ntelligent, evocative, and nuanced. —Adam Woog, The Seattle Times

Milo [is] a spy to die for. —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

Tour de force … scathing … first-rate popular fiction … Steinhauer seems to know the world of spies and assassins all too well… . [I]t feels real… . “The Tourist” is serious entertainment that raises interesting questions… . Steinhauer’s Milo Weaver trilogy could turn out to be something special. —Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

This is Len Deighton country. “The Tourist” is a complex, contemporary espionage story told with wit and sagacity, and it offers up a dozen or more intricate characters who keep the action on target. While the international intrigue and cross-country chase are the stuff of traditional Hitchcockian entertainment, Steinhauer once again demonstrates how his economical prose can turn unrelenting paranoia into an exciting ride. —David Lampe-Wilson, The Boston Globe

The Tourist is an incredibly multifarious and multi-layered novel… . Steinhauer … goes above the straightforward thriller to show the consequences of a spy’s existence on every level… . Olen Steinhauer has composed a hugely complex successor to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Unlike most espionage tales written in the years since that classic work first saw print in 1963, however, he manages to give his characters — even the most reprehensible ones — a human side and a degree of warmth. Spying is a nasty business that chews up and spits out the people involved in it. The Tourist shines a light on the moral costs. —Jim Winter, January Magazine

Only le Carré can make a spy as interesting. —Kirkus Reviews

Steinhauer manages to push the genre’s darker aspects to the extreme … without sacrificing the propulsive forward momentum… . [Weaver] is the perfect hero for such a richly nuanced tale. —Booklist (starred review)

Superbly accomplished at both plotting and characterization … compelling and hard to put down. —Library Journal (starred review)

An outstanding stand-alone —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

an absolutely superb contemporary espionage novel in the great tradition of the old masters of the genre.  Olen Steinhauer is a wonderful storyteller who is smart, observant, and witty.  The Tourist has what it takes to become a classic. —Nelson DeMille

A first class spy novel - wry, intelligent, layered … the kind of thing John Le Carre might have written if he knew then what we know now. —Lee Child

Complex…fast paced —Thomas Perry

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The Nearest Exit (2010)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES

"The book’s structure is a marvel of nested deceit, with ever smaller boxes inside of boxes. Still, it is the author’s brilliantly imagined characters, from the Serbian gunman with a cancer-riddled mother to the ponderously overweight Erika, a formidable BND director being sidelined by smaller minds in the German intelligence agency, that truly sustain this richly rewarding thriller. - P.G. Koch, Houston Chronicle

Winner: 2010 Dashiell Hammett Prize - New York Times "Notable" Book - IndieNext selection - Independent Booksellers (ABA) Bestseller - RUSA “Adrenaline” List Winner

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The Nearest Exit (2010)


FIRST CHAPTER - NOTES

"The book’s structure is a marvel of nested deceit, with ever smaller boxes inside of boxes. Still, it is the author’s brilliantly imagined characters, from the Serbian gunman with a cancer-riddled mother to the ponderously overweight Erika, a formidable BND director being sidelined by smaller minds in the German intelligence agency, that truly sustain this richly rewarding thriller. - P.G. Koch, Houston Chronicle

Winner: 2010 Dashiell Hammett Prize - New York Times "Notable" Book - IndieNext selection - Independent Booksellers (ABA) Bestseller - RUSA “Adrenaline” List Winner

Faced with the end of his quiet, settled life, reluctant spy Milo Weaver has no choice but to turn back to his old job as a “Tourist.” But before he can get back to the CIA’s dirty work, he has to prove his loyalty to his new bosses with an impossible task, and only then will he be set on the trail of a mole in Tourism.

Milo is suddenly in a dangerous position, between right and wrong, between powerful self-interested men, between self-professed patriots and hidden traitors—especially as a man who has nothing left to lose.

RECEPTION

Consider “The Nearest Exit,” a terrific second installment in Olen Steinhauer’s “Tourist” spy series about Milo Weaver. — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Steinhauer’s execution […] is nearly impeccable, and if your taste goes this dark you will follow him wherever he goes. — Alan Cheuse, The Dallas Morning News

Like a good spy thriller? Head for Steinhauer’s The Nearest Exit. […] In many ways this is a classic spy novel, but it’s [Milo] Weaver’s angst that lifts the book to a compelling level of freshness. — Carol Memmott, USA Today

There’s a reason Steinhauer has been compared to John le Carré in his mastery of spy tradecraft and its dark psychological underpinnings. The book’s structure is a marvel of nested deceit, with ever smaller boxes inside of boxes.

Still, it is the author’s brilliantly imagined characters, from the Serbian gunman with a cancer-riddled mother to the ponderously overweight Erika, a formidable BND director being sidelined by smaller minds in the German intelligence agency, that truly sustain this richly rewarding thriller. — P.G. Koch, The Houston Chronicle

“The Nearest Exit” […] reprises the themes of “The Tourist,” with even more success. […] Steinhauer skillfully renders the game of espionage in the post-cold-war, post-9/11 era. […] Like le Carré’s George Smiley, Weaver is a richly imagined creation with a scarred psyche and a complex back story that elevates him above the status of run-of-the-mill world-weary spook. […] brisk pacing, sharp dialogue and convincing evocation of a paranoid subculture. —Joshua Hammer, The New York Times Book Review

Milo’s back, and he’s better than ever. […] “The Nearest Exit,” with its well-crafted plot, unexpected twists and believable characters, is a pleasure from start to finish. […] “The Nearest Exit” should take its place among the best of the spy thrillers. —Mary Foster, Associated Press

[A] modern-day espionage masterpiece. The Tourist was impressive […] but this is even better, a dazzling, dizzyingly complex world of clandestine warfare that is complicated further by the affairs of the heart. Steinhauer never forgets the human lives at stake, and that, perhaps, is the now-older Weaver’s flaw: he is too human, too attached, to be the perfect spy. His failure to save the girl he was told to kill threads the whole book like barbed wire. —Keir Graff, Booklist (starred review)

This is […] an extraordinarily complex and compelling thriller. —Jonathan Pearce, Library Journal

Steinhauer’s adept characterization of a morally conflicted spy makes this an emotionally powerful read. —Publishers Weekly

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An American Spy (2012)


EXCERPT (PDF) - NOTES

"Not since John le Carré has a writer so vividly evoked the multilayered, multifaceted, deeply paranoid world of espionage, in which identities and allegiances are malleable and ever shifting… Real espionage is actually like this." - Ben Macintyre, The New York Times

3 weeks on NYT bestseller list - LA Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller - New York Times "Notable" book - Wall Street Journal "Best of 2012"

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An American Spy (2012)


EXCERPT (PDF) - NOTES

"Not since John le Carré has a writer so vividly evoked the multilayered, multifaceted, deeply paranoid world of espionage, in which identities and allegiances are malleable and ever shifting… Real espionage is actually like this." - Ben Macintyre, The New York Times

3 weeks on NYT bestseller list - LA Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller - New York Times "Notable" book - Wall Street Journal "Best of 2012"

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.

Things always become much, much worse before they can become better. That’s one of Tourism’s first rules.

RECEPTION

This ambitious, complex story spans the globe. Even when the intricacies of its plot are most challenging, we are fascinated and swept forward. Steinhauer has been likened to John le Carre and rightly so. Both men carry readers deep into a rival spy agency, one Soviet, one Chinese…Zhu may in time be to Weaver what the Soviet spymaster Karla was to le Carre’s George Smiley. Olen Steinhauer’s Milo Weaver novels are must-reads for lovers of the genre.
—Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post 

By the end of “An American Spy,” there is a tantalizing hint that those left standing will live to spy another day. This reader certainly hopes so, as will many who succumb to the seduction of Steinhauer’s irresistible masterwork of love, guilt and revenge.
—Paula L. Woods, The Los Angeles Times

Not since John le Carré has a writer so vividly evoked the multilayered, multifaceted, deeply paranoid world of espionage, in which identities and allegiances are malleable and ever shifting… Real espionage is actually like this.
—Ben Macintyre, The New York Times

…the action is lickety-split and spiked with exceedingly satisfying spy craft.
—Susannah Meadows, The New York Times

 highly charged … Olen Steinhauer is one terrific story plotter. In these three books you expect the unexpected. … fiendishly clever.
—Vick Mickunas, Dayton Daily News 

superb … Elevating these modern noir elements are Milo’s moral complexity, and the rich, often ironic personal details of the lives of some very bad people indeed.
—Michele Ross, the Cleveland Plain Dealer 

stunning … Steinhauer is at the top of his game — but when isn’t he?
—Carol Memmott, USA Today 

Steinhauer does for Chino-American espionage exactly what John le Carré did for the Cold War, which gives his thriller a unique insight into this treacherous half-lit world in the 21st century.
—Geoffrey Wansell, The Daily Mail 

The plot unfolds with such ease, grace and force that you simply don’t want it to end.
—Alan Cheuse, The Dallas Morning News

Right now the hottest name in [the spy thriller genre] is Olen Steinhauer. He’s been called John le Carré’s heir apparent, and the best espionage writer of his generation. For anyone who reads spy novels, that’s high praise.
—Christian DuChateau, cnn.com

Excellent…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. 
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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. […] Another must-read from the best novelist working in the tradition of John le Carré. 
Booklist (starred review)

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.
Library Journal