He only lasted an hour at Platinum Glam Club, a throbbing pulse of slick nightclub on the Quai du Seujet, facing the Rhône where it flowed from Lake Geneva. Fifteen minutes in, he’d gone deaf from the techno music and the rich Swiss youth packed in around him, screaming to be heard. Lights flashed, lasers scribbled on the walls, and he soon lost track of Einner in the crowd that led to the dance floor. His entry fee entitled him to a free drink , but it was too much work trying to fight his way to the bar, where toned young men in spiky bleached hairdos flipped bottles to the agonizing rhythm of the music, as delivered by a certain DJ Jazzy Schwartz. He backed away, knocking into pretty girls with tall, multicolored drinks and short skirts who pretended he wasn’t there, and tried to make it to the couches that lined the room. By the time he reached them, though, they were filled. He had no idea why he was here, so he worked his way to the entrance again.
observations: Olen Steinhauer hit my radar via the awesome combination of Col (Col’s Criminal Library) and TracyK (Bitter Tea and Mystery): once they had both recommended him I knew I had to read him, but I cannot remember why I picked on this particular book to start with – maybe it was cheap that day on Kindle? It's not his most recent, and perhaps not the one either of them specially recommended – though Tracy reviewed it enthusiastically here.
Anyway here’s an author I hadn’t heard of at all, and one who is very good – his writing style is, I would say, superior to that in many other genre books. This was a tricksy, winding story with a lot of elements to keep straight and a lot of guessing and second-guessing to do. Our hero Milo was a Tourist - a secret CIA operative doing very special kind of jobs. After a major disaster, he moves to a more conventional job with the organization, but the past will call him back. Yes, that is the setup to an awful lot of spy thrillers, but this one did the job particularly well, and was a very gripping read.
Two problems – a woman who is 8-9 months pregnant would not be able to fly from the USA to Venice.
And: A man who is being watched and followed (actually by two different people, with different motives) buys some takeout. He is carrying the bag home, but stops at a rubbish bin, takes out one box of food from the bag, and ditches it. Is this the worst piece of tradecraft ever? How does that work – you do something that no-one ever does in real life, and only one of your suspicious professional watchers guesses that there’s a message in the box? I am (you will be surprised to hear) not a spy, but I can think of 8 different and better casual actions that might not arouse suspicions…
However the reason I am being so fussy is really because this is such a good book otherwise, I found the odd thing tripped me up just because most of it was so good. I am delighted to see Olen Steinhauer has written a lot of books, and I look forward to working my way through them.
The picture of a Swiss nightclub is from Wikimedia Commons.