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The Last Tourist


The Last Tourist

Olen Steinhauer’s Tourist books --- THE TOURIST, THE NEAREST EXIT and AN AMERICAN SPY --- appeared to be a trilogy, particularly when the author subsequently published a trio of stand-alone works, presumably leaving the world of Milo Weaver behind. So fans of the series will rejoice over this latest installment, though its complexity and reliance upon what has gone before almost demand a review of the prior novels before jumping into this one.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Weaver is a somewhat disenchanted CIA agent who runs a group of CIA-trained assassins who quietly and effectively solve problems in a manner that avoids recidivism. That program is suddenly brought to a halt. Weaver, along with some other retired agents, puts together something called The Library. It is an intelligence clearinghouse of sorts, gathering hard and soft information and selling it by subscription to the select group of nations that fund it. The arrangement works well until two things happen. The member nations decide that they want more bang for their buck. Weaver pushes back, and the parties are at a bit of an impasse. Shortly thereafter, it seems that someone has started up The Tourists again and is doing so with a vengeance. It is not Weaver; in fact, it appears that he is a target. There is an anarchist terrorist group in the mix as well. Weaver and his family go into hiding.

"This is a complex novel that is worth the ride if you can hang on.... [Steinhauer's] concepts and displays of sleight-of-hand are fascinating and compelling from beginning to end."

The CIA wants information from Weaver. After managing to locate him, they send a low-level desk jockey analyst named Abdul Ghali to his hidey-hole in a backwater Third World country with a list of questions that cover several topics. Ghali feels outclassed, and he is, at least at first. Sending him on such a mission is a mystery to both him and the reader, though the reason is ultimately made (somewhat) clear as THE LAST TOURIST develops into a book that is almost as much about Ghali as it is about Weaver.

The two men go through most of Ghali’s inquiries when they are suddenly attacked and find themselves on the run. Weaver is determined to turn things around for the most basic of reasons. He’s not out to save or change the world --- he simply wants to live safely with his family. That is going to be tough to do, as there are very few people he can trust. Some of them, especially the government types, have similar goals but for markedly different reasons. Consequently, a great number of activities occur at cross-purposes with each other. There are twists and turns as past enemies become allies, and vice versa, with the end result being that no one can really totally trust anyone else. Weaver may be too nice a guy to ultimately succeed, given that the enemy behind the curtain is not who or what he thinks it is. It’s something much more powerful. Ghali, meanwhile, gets a couple of major surprises, as well as the last word in THE LAST TOURIST. No peeking.

This is a complex novel that is worth the ride if you can hang on. I made frequent use of the e-book’s search feature due to the number of characters here, as I had difficulty keeping track of everyone. Steinhauer also stumbles when trying to draw his story within the confines of the real world, particularly with respect to certain aspects of American politics, where events have overtaken the narrative. That said, his concepts and displays of sleight-of-hand are fascinating and compelling from beginning to end.

If Steinhauer is inspired to return to Weaver’s world (if not Weaver himself), hopefully the urge will occur quickly, before the details of THE LAST TOURIST fade into the rearview mirror.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 3, 2020

The Last Tourist
by Olen Steinhauer

  • Publication Date: March 23, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250036194
  • ISBN-13: 9781250036193