I finished the book and realized I could’ve read the last 20 pages and probably have been as satisfied. Steinhauer is clearly trying to present a novel of the spy business and the international entanglements that get into motion and all of it can have many levels going in many directions and you can’t trust a souls. All of those ‘and’s should give you a clue to how confusing this book can be if the reader isn’t paying attention.
One thing i liked is that this claims to be past of a series and well shows that a series may have similar characters but doesn’t have to have a star. The first two starred Milo Weaver. Here Weaver gets lost in all of the spy shenanigans, which I think is more of what Steinhauer is trying to present. The down side is a hard one, the book starts out in China and barely mentions a familiar character until after almost a third of the book. I’ll add that the first third is questionably needed.
The writing is very, very good. Excellent use of words and ideas. Though the first chunk in China is written in perfect English that just wouldn’t happen in translation. The Americanized dialogue of the Chinese further confuses with so much going on.
The plotting of multiple very different characters with different names of various nationalities constructed in a non-linear way is taking the idea of portraying a complex spy world to a level that almost needs a reader to take notes to keep track of everyone. There’s far too much effort to jump back and forth with different viewpoints. It’s a big effort for how the book ends. which I found very disappointing.
Despite the great writing, i can’t get past the poor plotting and ending:
Bottom line : I don’t recommend this book. 5 out of ten points.