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An American Spy    by Olen Steinhauer order for
American Spy
by Olen Steinhauer
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Olen Steinhauer introduced reluctant CIA agent Milo Weaver, working for the clandestine Department of Tourism in The Tourist. Almost all members of said department were slaughtered in The Nearest Exit. Fortunately Milo survived to reappear in An American Spy.

The Chinese are at the center of the conspiracies involved, in particular Chinese spymaster Xin Zhu, who hasn't finished with his Macchiavellian plots. And though Milo wants only to start a new career and enjoy a peaceful family life, his former boss and friend, Alan Drummond, seems to be looking for revenge for the deaths of his subordinates. He disappears in London, after using one of Milo's past aliases - hence forcing his friend to get involved.

When Milo's beloved wife and daughter disappear, he's frantic. Xin Zhu threatens their lives if Milo does not follow his orders, so he reluctantly - and cautiously - complies. Of course, there are wheels turning within wheels in both Chinese and US politics. Xin Zhu is trying to protect his own position by outing a senior Chinese official as a US mole. This requires 'sending out agents, plotting moves on the other side of the planet.' On the American side is a subtle plan, its end game 'hidden in the obscure folds of foreign policy.'

Soon the game is on, with Milo's father's shadowy UN organization and the few surviving Tourists in play. And they are very good at what they do. As we expect, the murky waters eventually do become clear, including the motivation behind Xin Zhu's original massacre of Tourists. But, along the way, Milo loses someone close to him.

Olen Steinhauer has been compared to both Len Deighton and John Le Carre. He writes the same kind of subtle plot, with agents on the ground doing their jobs while trying to understand the ruthless manipulations of their puppetmasters on high. If you enjoy a well written spy thriller, don't miss this series.

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