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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and intriguing. 4 ½ stars.
Olen Steinhauer's third installment of the Tourist saga is a very complex tale of espionage and human vulnerability.

This third installment of the saga picks up where the last book left off. Milo Weaver is still recuperating from the gunshot wound he suffered, and has quit the CIA, preferring to focus his attentions on his family and starting a new career in...
Published on February 2, 2012 by Brian Baker

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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a mess
I don't usually write reviews but felt I needed to after reading this book. I have read all of Olen Steinhauer's books and was excited when the third book in the Milo Weaver saga was released. The book starts off well enough but by the time I had finished the book I had no idea what I had just read. Who was operating for who and what really was the point of any of the...
Published on April 5, 2012 by David Rodgers


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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and intriguing. 4 ½ stars., February 2, 2012
By 
Brian Baker (Santa Clarita, CA) - See all my reviews
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Olen Steinhauer's third installment of the Tourist saga is a very complex tale of espionage and human vulnerability.

This third installment of the saga picks up where the last book left off. Milo Weaver is still recuperating from the gunshot wound he suffered, and has quit the CIA, preferring to focus his attentions on his family and starting a new career in the civilian world. His friend and former boss Alan Drummond is obsessed with seeking revenge for the slaughter of the Tourist section of the CIA of which he was chief. Chinese spymaster Xin Zhu, the mastermind of that massacre, is trying to consolidate his position in the espionage hierarchy of his country by identifying an American-controlled mole high up in the government bureaucracy that controls Chinese intelligence functions and departments.

How these complex and conflicting story lines converge and interact is the plot of this novel.

The opening segment of the book focuses on Xin's activities, and Weaver doesn't even enter onstage until well into the story. Overall, the book has a broader focus than the previous entries; not as much time on Weaver, and more focus on Xin. That actually serves the story well.

Many of the characters have very complex motivations, and act in ways that are confusing at first, until the resolution at the end of the book makes things clear. This is very well done, illustrating the moral complexity and ambiguity inherent in the world of espionage Steinhauer has created. In many ways this is reminiscent of themes Len Deighton and John Le Carre explored in their classic works in the genre.

Though there is action were appropriate, I wouldn't categorize this book as a "thriller". It's better than that. The characterizations are all fully realized with three-dimensional people. The plot is complex and fully developed, with a satisfying conclusion that isn't predictable.

Highly entertaining. 4 ½ stars.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Complex, At Times Confusing, Mostly Interesting Spy Story!, February 10, 2012
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An American Spy is Olen Steinhauer's third novel featuring Milo Weaver. If you read the first two books in this series -- The Tourist and The Nearest Exit , both of which are excellent -- you know that Milo Weaver was a CIA "tourist," until almost all of his fellow operatives were decimated by a Chinese spymaster, and the clandestine Department of Tourism was shut down.

Now, in An American Spy, which I enjoyed a lot (but not as much as the other two), Milo's old boss is bent on revenge, and when he vanishes in London, Milo finds himself back in the shadow world of espionage, unsure who is an agent and who is the target, who is pulling the strings and who is being played. I won't say any more than this about the plot so that you can work your own way through unraveling all of the layers of intrigue, double crosses and plot twists.

Be forewarned that to an even greater extent than in The Tourist and The Nearest Exit, the experience of reading An American Spy is very complex and at times confusing, and will make you feel that you need a scorecard to keep track of the large cast of characters, particularly since many of the characters have Chinese names that will likely be unfamiliar to many readers. It is a reading experience that will require you to pay full attention throughout the book so that you can appreciate all of its nuances and, most importantly, so that you will be able to understand how all of the complicated and, at times, confusing elements get tied together by the end of the book. Also, be forewarned that An American Spy is not a fast-paced book and while it is a first-rate spy story, it is not an action-oriented thriller. An American Spy's strength is derived from Steinhauer's strong ability to create very realistic and fully dimensionalized characters, as well as plot elements that you will mostly find interesting (despite their complexity which will at times cause you to scratch your head while trying to keep up with what is happening, and why).

If you've been a fan of The Tourist and/or The Nearest Exit I'd highly recommend An American Spy -- even if you don't find it, on a relative basis, to be as good. I'm pretty certain that, in the absolute, you'll be glad you read it. However, I would not recommend An American Spy if it would be your first book in the series. I think that without the background into the large cast of characters and the history of events that took place in the earlier books you'll "drown in the sea of complexity" as you wade your way through An American Spy.

I hope that my review of what I think you'll find the reading experience to be like is helpful in deciding if An American Spy is a book for you.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a mess, April 5, 2012
By 
David Rodgers (valparaiso, indiana USA) - See all my reviews
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I don't usually write reviews but felt I needed to after reading this book. I have read all of Olen Steinhauer's books and was excited when the third book in the Milo Weaver saga was released. The book starts off well enough but by the time I had finished the book I had no idea what I had just read. Who was operating for who and what really was the point of any of the operations! It was a chore to get through the last 100 pages. I consider myself a fairly proficient reader but I was really confused by the time this book had ended.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overblown, incomprehensible and dull; just not worth the effort, March 30, 2012
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I don't write many reviews for fiction because I think that fiction is, on the whole, a matter of personal taste and you should simply judge novels for yourself. But this is just such an awful book that I thought somebody ought to offer a small counterweight to the inevitable praise that is being heaped upon it. Yes, I know Steinhauer has been elevated to sainthood by a lot of readers already, but on the strength of this badly misbegotten novel they really ought to revoke his deification.

I loved the first book in this series, and looked forward to the second. I was shocked to discover how much I hated it. Now we have number three and I was anxious to give Milo another chance. Alas, AN AMERICAN SPY is an utterly unreadable mess. It's probably been a decade since I abandoned a book, but I abandoned this one. I struggled along manfully for nearly a hundred pages, but then I could go no further. Reading it was like trying to swim in tapioca pudding. The plot (?) is incomprehensible and the characters are completely unmemorable. There is so much good fiction out there, you really shouldn't waste your time here.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are we done yet?, April 5, 2012
After really enjoying the first two books I waited with great anticipation for almost 2 year for An American Spy. As soon as it was available on the Nook pre-order, I secured my opportunity to devour the 3rd book in this trilogy. The day finally came.......I'm ready to find my lost love. Well, the first 80 pages tested every ounce of patience I had, I was bored to tears. I read 3 pages at a time and turned out the lights. I kept thinking, "Did a different author write this first part?" "Where is Milo.....where is the excitement...where is the action?" Finally, after about 80 pages of Chinese characters, we were blessed with the return of Milo et al. But keep going long enough, and it just got too COMPLICATED by the time it was all said and done. By the time I got to page 300, I said, "I'm done, I don't care anymore!" I couldn't even muster up the strength or patience to read another page! So, the last 36+ pages, I fanned though. The End.........sorry Milo, I love you, but I'm over you!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not As Good as The Other Two, May 12, 2012
The first thing that you need to know - but Amazon does not make clear - is that this is the third book in "Milo Weaver" trilogy.

So, before you read this one, read these two:

1: The Tourist
2: The Nearest Exit

I have to say that these two books were amongst the most entertaining works of fiction that I have read in a long time. I like reading Custler (when he writes his own books), Clancy (ditto), Grisham, King and the other usual suspects, and I think that Steinhauer has the imagination, research skills and literary skills to hold his own as a fiction writer.

However, I found An American Spy to be quite disappointing. The quality of the dialogue and narrative are as exceptional as they were in the other two novels, but I felt like Steinhauer had simply run out of inspiration with this one.

The book progresses quite slowly, and when the action finally starts the author uses a series of vignettes to tell what is admittedly a complex plot from the perspective of the main interlocutors. For me, the problem with this is that you end up having to read quite a bit that already know, while the critical bits of information you need in order to piece things together are actually few and far between. I just didn't like it - it felt like padding, although I don't think for a minute that this is what it was intended to be.

I won't give away the plot line, but suffice to say the story picks up where it left off in the previous book. I didn't therefore have many problems following the diverse range of characters. If you read the first two books, neither will you.

The good news (I think), is that Stenihauer has left the door open for another Milo Weaver novel. I do hope, however, that he can replicate his excellent performance from the first two novels.

In summary, if you want to get into a good trilogy with an excellently developed main character, the Milo Weaver series is for you. Just make sure you savour every page of the first two books - they'll more than makeup for any dissapointment you may experience in An American Spy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad book, but disappointing, April 22, 2012
I looked forward eagerly to reading another book about the "Tourists", the (imaginary?) super-secret network of American spies and hit-persons. But for my taste this book was a disappointment. It's formulaic, maybe even a bit boring. One new character, the Chinese spy master Xin Tzu, is drawn in a little depth, but other characters are at best two dimensional. The plot is confusing enough, but in the end it seems to have no significant point or message. This would be a perfectly acceptable book to read during a long layover at the airport, or while watching the kids play at the beach - so as the titles says, it's not really a bad book. It's just that, as a book by Olen Steinhauer, maybe my expectations were too hihg. I expected a lot more. I hope Steinhauer's pot is not boiling dry.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, September 4, 2012
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I Quit after 20 pages. This is one of the worst, most pretentious espionage books ever. The theme seems to be, "How can I confuse readers to the extent that they will be so over-awed that they will praise the book. Just terrible.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly murky and inconclusive, April 28, 2012
I enjoyed the first 2 books in this series, and find him a talented and intriguing writer, but this book has serious flaws. Others have summarized the plot well. Although I prefer more ambitious spy books such as this one to the many more simplistic books out there, my complaints are:

1. The frequent changes in perspective and shifts backward then forward in time drain momentum and are sometimes confusing.

2. Much too much of the book is focused on internal Chinese intrigue.

3. Milo, for a master spy, is very easily and completely fooled by a fake American agent.

4. One of the most interesting characters is killed off, for no valid reason and way too easily for a skilled agent.

5. Much of the action is unbelievable.

6. Milo disappears from the narrative for dozens of pages at a time.

7. I respectfully disagree with those readers who find all the characters three dimensional--I find none of them are except Milo.

8. If you did not read the prior book recently, you will not remember some key facts--he does not recap them adequately.

9. The ending is murky and inconclusive--and when the next installment comes out, most readers will need to reread this book to remember what is going on.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where the Heck is Milo Weaver?, April 5, 2012
By 
N. Bilmes "bookaholic" (Vernon, CT United States) - See all my reviews
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The first two Milo Weaver books were very intelligent, yet totally entertaining, spy stories featuring Milo Weaver, a Tourist for the American Government. This 3rd entry in the Weaver series is very intelligent, yet totally unreadable due to an excessive amount of John LeCarre-like behind the scenes spy scenes within the Chinese Government. Milo Weaver is barely featured in this book.

When a reader comes to a book fully expecting to be reengaged with a character he or she is familiar with from previous stories, it is a GIGANTIC mistake to ignore the character for 80 pages. I learned more about China than I wanted to during the 10 days I spent reading this, and resorted to skimming on day 11 of my self-inflicted torture experiment. I will give Olen Steinhauer's Milo Weaver series one more chance based on the excellence of the first two novels, but I cannot recommend this book to anyone.
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An American Spy (Milo Weaver)
An American Spy (Milo Weaver) by Olen Steinhauer (Paperback - October 16, 2012)
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