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First beach read of the year?

Posted by Jan Gardner  February 24, 2009 10:35 AM

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David Lampe-Wilson, a former newspaper editor who now owns Mystery on Main Street in Barttleboro, Vt., feels he has spotted a gem: "The Tourist'' by Olen Steinhauer, coming out March 3:

He writes: "With 'The Tourist,' Olen Steinhauer should discover he suddenly has a burgeoning fan base. Known for his literary, European-based novels driven by complex, intelligent characters, Steinhauer's latest hits the ground running and this dark tale of deceit and betrayal never lets up.

Milo Weaver, a former CIA undercover agent, is no longer a field operative; he's settled into a CIA office job when his earlier life and some old secrets surface, making the world a dangerous place for himself and his family.

This is Len Deighton country. "The Tourist" is a complex, contemporary espionage story told with wit and sagacity, and it offers up a dozen or more intricate characters who keep the action on target. While the international intrigue and cross-country chase are the stuff of traditional Hitchcockian entertainment, Steinhauer once again demonstrates how his economical prose can turn unrelenting paranoia into an exciting ride.

Steinhauer's earlier books set a high standard for both himself and his readers. 'The Tourist,'already optioned by George Clooney for the Hollywood treatment, looks to be this fine writer's chance to break out of the pack. Although we are still in winter, count this as the year's first great beach read."

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About off the shelf News about books, authors, and publishers from The Boston Globe.
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Nicole Lamy is editor of the Globe's Books section.
Jan Gardner writes the "Shelf Life" column for the Globe's Books section.
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