THE NEAREST EXIT

Written by Olen Steinhauer

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers. His latest books are ‘The Bid’ (Midnight Ink), the second Gonzales & Vaslik thriller, and ‘Dark Asset’ (Severn House), the fourth in his Marc Portman series. More information https://www.adrianmagson.com/


THE NEAREST EXIT
Corvus
RRP: £12.99
Released: 1st October 2010
HBK

Olen Steinhauer’s latest novel is populated with characters playing complex roles: Milo Weaver aka Sebastian Hall, the Tourist; Henry Gray, a journalist in search of a scoop; Xin Zhu, Chinese spymaster; Alan Drummond, Head of Tourism; Yevgeny Primakov of the United Nations (and Milo’s father); Erika Schwartz, overweight BND Director (also chocolate and Riesling junkie); and Senator Nathan Irwin, responsible for a CIA mission to kill a Muslim cleric in the Sudan, which has far-reaching results and touches every one of them. They all rattle around like loosely-connected snooker balls, coming together and drifting apart with little emotional feel for each other but an enormous and devastating impact.

Milo the Tourist (not a holiday traveller but one of a team of CIA assassins who travel the world, waiting for their next assignments) receives orders to kidnap and kill a girl of 15, Adrian Stanescu. No explanations, no reasoning, he has just a few days to comply. Tourists are not encouraged to ask questions.

But Milo is not like other tourists; he has a wife and daughter, albeit estranged from them by his job, and this latest assignment, coming on top of other questionable activities in his past, places him in an impossible position. He chooses not to kill Adriana, but places her in the care of others while he tries to figure out why a 15-year old girl should merit a Company death sentence. Unfortunately, she dies anyway, at the hands of another Tourist with fewer scruples and a more detached view of his work, leaving Milo as the only identifiable face, captured on CCTV.

But this isn’t his only problem. There is a suspected mole in the Department of Tourism, with a possible link to the Chinese. And this link goes back all the way to the Company operation in the Sudan, in which Milo was involved and which, for someone, is a catalyst for seeking the ultimate form of revenge, even if it means going through the entire Tourist list one by one, in a shocking and ultimately brilliant turn of events.

A complex tale of treachery, divided loyalties, revenge… and the long memories of people who never forget past humiliations and dark deeds. From disparate beginnings, Steinhauer brings together the various players, easing them out of the shadows and filling out the patchwork that is their shared existence.

It’s a fascinating, clever and tangled world, where nobody is who they seem and where trust is a commodity with no more value than today’s banking promises.

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