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Novel of the week: The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
Steinhauer's thickly plotted new thriller is about a likable CIA assassin who is repelled by his own dirty work. Film rights have been optioned by George Clooney.

(Minotaur, $24.95)

George Clooney has optioned the rights to Olen Steinhauer’s new thriller, and you can see why, said Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times. Its winning protagonist, Milo Weaver, is “a decent man sickened by the dirty work he does” as a CIA assassin, and he’s also a doting Brooklyn dad. The real question about The Tourist is whether a thickly plotted page-turner can be fully satisfying when the stakes in its most exciting scenes concern family instead of geopolitics.

I say yes, said Janet Maslin, also in the Times. Steinhauer has dreamed up a secret CIA offshoot in which operatives are called Tourists. As Milo is drawn back into its black-ops work by suspicions about an old friend in Paris, the author “immerses the reader in the same kind of uncertainty that Milo faces at every turn.” It’s no stretch to compare this novel to early John le Carré.

You read on despite your confusion not just because Milo is so likable, said Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post. You read on because Steinhauer’s portrait of the contemporary CIA as “a nest of highly lethal, surpassingly cynical vipers” feels so real.

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