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The Amateur Spy (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) [Kindle Edition]

Dan Fesperman
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The Amateur Spy recasts the spy novel for the post-9/11 world—anyone might be watching, everyone is suspect.

Freeman Lockhart, a humanitarian aid worker and his Bosnian wife have just retired to a charming house on a Greek island. On their first night, violent intruders blackmail Freeman into spying on an old Palestinian friend living in Jordan. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a Palestinian-American named Aliyah Rahim is worried about her husband, who blames their daughter's death on the U.S. anti-terror policies. Aliyah learns that he is plotting a cataclysmic act of revenge; in a desperate effort to stop him, she flies to Jordan to meet her husband's co-conspirators. There she encounters Freeman neck-deep in his own investigation. As their paths intertwine, the story rises to its fast-paced, explosive climax.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

War correspondent Fesperman, the winner of the CWA's John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award, shines the light of his insider's knowledge into the dark corners of Jordan and Jerusalem in his gripping fifth thriller. After a career as an aid worker in some of the world's hot spots, 55-year-old Freeman Lockhart has retired with his 37-year-old Bosnian wife, Mila, to the Aegean island of Karos. The first night in their new home they wake to find three intruders, who spirit Freeman away to a nearby location where he's ordered to fly to Jordan to spy on a former friend and co-worker, Omar al-Baroody. When Freeman declines, his captors tell him that if he doesn't do what they ask, they'll tell the world his dark secret involving Mila from their days working in Africa. Freeman heads off to Amman to do their bidding. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a wealthy doctor, Abbas Rahim, plots an act of terrorism that will threaten the lives of the government's highest power brokers. Freeman may be an amateur spy, but Fesperman (The Prisoner of Guantánamo) proves once again that he's a consummate professional. Author tour.(Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Burned-out aid worker Freeman Lockhart wants nothing more than to retire to a Greek island with his beautiful young wife. He makes it to the island, but three men break into his house with a job offer: they want him to get back in the business, this time to spy on an old friend whose Jordanian charity may be financing terrorists. Fesperman is a former globe-trotting journalist whose nonfiction informs his novels. But after a terrific debut (Lie in the Dark, 1999), subsequent works have gradually grown more cerebral and less thrilling—and this latest effort is hamstrung by both a surplus of expository dialogue and by curiously old-fashioned prose (Lockhart, allegedly American, exclaims “Good Lord!” and calls other men “fellows” and “scoundrels”). Although politically savvy travelers will find much to interest them in the background, the action in the foreground is somewhat slack. We don’t doubt Fesperman’s reportorial skills, but given the contemporary nature of his knowledge, it would have been nice if this novel didn’t read like a work from the past. --Keir Graff

Product Details

  • File Size: 414 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400096154
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 4, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,116 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible book by a good author September 25, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i have now read five books by this author and am into my sixth. I have no idea what led to this uninspired and lifeless book. Fesperman's main character, Freeman Lockhart, isn't simply an amateur spy, he is a bumbling and inept thinker who wanders through the Middle East in search of an original idea. Amazingly, Lockhart is described as a man with extensive experience in the world's most troubled areas by virtue of a career as a humanitarian aid worker, but his actions reflect none of this as he misreads every situation he faces.

Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the book is the apparent motive for Lockhart's actions. He seeks to protect a secret, not about himself, but about his wife. Lockhart inflates his own moral qualities by this steadfast refusal to reveal the secret. As it turns out, the secret is an implausible reason for any of his actions. Revealing the secret would have . . . well, that is the problem, the result of a revelation isn't a very big deal.

The second story line in the book is equally implausible. No, not implausible, flat impossible. A surgeon who treats nationally prominent politicians plans and pursues the bombing of a church full of national leaders by tunneling from an abandoned pizza joint, across an alley, to the church, almost single-handedly. But for a change of heart by the surgeon, the plan would have succeeded; we even have the surgeon's finger on the toggle switch before Lockhart saves planet earth.

Here's hoping Fesperman regains his balance in his sixth book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb espionage thriller March 6, 2008
After years working in the world's most dangerous spots as an aid worker, fifty-five year old Freeman Lockhart retires. He and his thirty-something Bosnian spouse Mila take residence on the island of Karos in the Aegean Sea.

However, on their very first night, three home invaders abduct Freeman. They demand he do their bidding. He is to go to Jordon to spy on a former aid co-worker Omar al-Baroody. If he refuses, they will publicly destroy him and his wife by revealing his darkest secret involving his spouse when they worked in Africa. Stunned, he travels to Amman while in Washington, D.C. Dr. Abbas Rahim plans a terrorist attack that ties back to Freeman's Jordanian mission.

THE AMATEUR SPY is a superb espionage thriller and the audience will show their appreciation by reading it in one entranced sitting. Freeman is terrific as the title character blackmailed into a scenario that is out of his skill level but failure is unacceptable as he knows the price. Fans will sympathize and root for him while watching him bungle his way through a dangerous mission in which he knows no matter what he does someone will die.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A long, tedious path to a somewhat exciting climax November 4, 2009
I found this to be very slow going. The major part of the novel has the main character acting very much the amateur and takes his time doing so. Seems like he makes boo-boos that even we armchair spies wouldn't make. And the reading of his bumbling is just plain dull. The climax is exciting, but it takes a heck of a long while to get there.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but curiously unmoving and unengaging March 22, 2008
I won't go into a full rehash of the story, as the publishing reviews and other member reviews have done that in great detail. Essentially, this is the story of a retired aid worker (Freeman Lockhart) who's recruited by a murky intelligence agency to perform some spying for them targeting one of his former associates, a Palestinian now running a charitable fundraising organization. Of course, the question Lockhart is to determine is if, in fact, that's really all his old friend is up to. As leverage, three agents from the unnamed agency threaten Lockhart's young wife while also threatening to reveal to her a secret from Lockhart's past he doesn't want revealed because he's afraid of how it will affect her.

Okay, I know that all sounds complicated; well, it gets even more so as the story progresses.

At the same time, in Washington, DC, an American doctor of Middle Eastern descent and his wife, whose daughter was killed in a passport screwup while overseas which may have been caused by delays due to her Middle Eastern last name -- or so the doctor believes -- find themselves involved in a plot to commit a terrorist act against a gathering of high government officials.

See what I mean?

There are some interesting ideas here: an "amateur spy" with absolutely no intelligence training or experience bumbling his way through an operation; the byzantine politics of the Middle East, with its various competing factions; the world of aid distribution and cease-fire monitoring.

Unfortunately, author Fesperman had so many balls in the air he ends up dropping several of them.

When we finally learn the identity of the agency that's behind his "recruitment", that entire thread of the story abruptly disappears.
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3.0 out of 5 stars well written, shaky plot..... September 7, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read all of Fesperman's books. I think this book is very engaging, especially in dealing with the complex political issues of the middle east. Fesperman writes very well - and that is probably the saving grace and what earns him the three stars.
The basic reason for the primary character being coerced into acting as a "spy", is some secret he is protecting about his wife - when that is revealed, it seems absolutely frivolous and quite insignificant - almost more of a personal issue rather than one of any "global" impact. Thus the entire premise for the plot seems somewhat flimsy. The ending was not only predictable - which is ok, but it was so simplistically predictable - that it took away from the book - it seemed like a "made for tv" or a movie ending. It could have been so much more complex and challenging as far as character development.
Well worth reading for the writing style if not so much for the plot
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fesperman-esque
All of Dan Fesperman's books that I have read have been pretty similar, but they've all been entertaining - some excitement, a little romance, exotic and often war-torn locations. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Michael L . Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ameteur Spy
Quick pace. Good "travel" information regarding what parts of the Middle East are like for residents. Worth a summer reading effort.
Published on June 3, 2012 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Expected
This is the first book I've read by Fesperman, but I'm impressed enough that it won't be that last. This novel revolves aroud an ex-UN aid worker who winds up working for an NGO in... Read more
Published on May 21, 2012 by Donald E. Gilliland
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't add up
Freeman Lockhart and his wife Mila are newly retired United Nations aide workers . Their home is on the Aegean island of Karos. Read more
Published on September 14, 2009 by DM
4.0 out of 5 stars First Person Narratives - Story Teller or Character?
I agree with some of the other reviewers that the central character is not always engaging. But I think Fesperman intends this. Read more
Published on May 8, 2009 by JF
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing waste of time
I was looking for a bright, engaging thriller for a long plane ride. What a disappointment. Consider: three armed goons abduct you at gunpoint, threaten to take over your life... Read more
Published on May 29, 2008 by Soozie
3.0 out of 5 stars It's just too easy
A lot of the events in this novel just seem to happen too easily- the main character begins spying on his old friend Omar after the briefest of moral struggles. Read more
Published on April 27, 2008 by Bryan
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all about religion.
One of the hottest flashpoints in the world today is the Middle East. Iraq is, of course, for most Americans, the hottest area. Read more
Published on April 10, 2008 by Lou Novacheck
4.0 out of 5 stars A fish out of water
THE AMATEUR SPY is one of those novels that at various points leaves a reader torn between rapidly turning the pages and throwing the book across the room. Read more
Published on April 3, 2008 by Bookreporter
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