Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Couple of Reviews From Karen Shaver

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer (St. Martins, March)
We meet Charles Alexander when he is working with an intelligence network, Tourism. Rules for Tourists include to never question the "why" of the orders, and never doubt your ability to survive. Charles copes with thoughts of suicide and uses stimulants from time to time to get through the day. After burning out, we meet him as Milo Weaver, husband and stepfather. But Milo can't get away from the old life and finds himself involved in the investigation of a murdered friend/former co-worker. Nothing is as it seems and clues lead to Sudan, China and Europe. The author keeps you guessing as to who to trust, if anyone, and where the next discovery will lead. A spy thriller, this author is said to be in the same company as John le Carre, Graham Greene and Len Deighton. It's definitely a page-turner and Charles/Milo an interesting, thoughtful character.

Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg (Farrar, Straus and Giroux March)
Toronto is the setting for this crime story. The author offers an exquisite sense of place as he describes the environment, cultures and the fanaticism of hockey fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It seems like an open and shut case. Paper delivery person has his usual morning chat with customer who announces he just killed his wife, who is really his girlfriend. The cast of characters is varied. Gurdial Singh a 74-year-old native of India, delivers newspapers. There is the wannabe reporter Awotwe Amankwah who does "hockey therapy" with defense attorney Nancy Parish. Albert Fernandez, the prosecutor is from Chile. He's finally mastered the English language which he describes as a "car crash" and is urging his wife to do the same. One time lawyer, Daniel Kennicott and Detective, Ari Greene, peel away the layers of a crime that turns out quite different than first thought.

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