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