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THE NEAREST EXIT by Olen Steinhauer


by Olen SteinhauerKen Bruen

Pub Date: May 11th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-62287-9
Publisher: Minotaur

Proving there’s still juice in the le Carré formula, still another spy comes in from the cold.

There’s a sort of Tourist who, when he or she visits a church or museum, wants to blow it up. In the clandestine community, Tourists—note the capitalization—are spoken of with the reverence reserved for the best and brightest—and the most lethal. The Department of Tourism, established by the CIA, is so hush-hush that within the Company itself there are those who doubt its existence. Who can blame them? Who ever sees a Tourist? In the entire world, there are only 63 of this special breed, who murder in the service of their government. Essentially decent, though deeply committed, Milo Weaver was one of them. Was, then wasn’t, and then suddenly, inexplicably, he’s back. So there’s Milo, a Milo now with wife and daughter, presumably again ready to kill on command. Soon enough, he discovers that disconcerting changes have taken place: That old gang of his is no longer at command center. But blow away a 15-year-old girl? How does one go about preparing for an assignment that far beyond the pale?  Long ago, Milo trained himself to accept on faith that certain acts of wickedness were in fact patriotic acts when ordered by people who loved their country as wholeheartedly as he did. Now, however, a new pragmatism may be undermining the Tourist trade. And maybe murder will turn out to be just murder.

Excessively complicated, but it’s a Steinhauer (The Tourist, 2009, etc.), which means it’s good all the same.