Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An American Spy, by Olin Steinhauer

An American Spy is an exciting and deeply layered spy novel.  Olen Steinhauer takes his time and lets the story marinate.  His characters are very well developed and their sense of paranoia creeps into you as a reader so that you are constantly guessing at the games that are being played and the hidden motivations involved.  

Steinhauer does a good job of leading you from one event to the next and then taking you back over it from a different point of view to challenge your assumptions and any conclusions you have reached.  The tension builds slowly and steadily throughout the novel.  There are no omniscient characters here and you are constantly left guessing whether their actions have been anticipated or whether they will outflank their opponent.  This keeps the suspense at a very high level.  

An American Spy is my first read of an Olen Steinhauer book, but the third book in the Milo Weaver series.  Milo is a very engaging character and while I wished I had read the earlier books, I didn’t feel they were necessary to appreciate the story here.  There are no cookie-cutter characters here and you learn to appreciate their faults as much as their virtues.  The story constantly keeps you on your toes.  Steinhauer has officially joined the ranks of the great writers of spy novels.  I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.  Highly recommended.