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The Amateur: A Novel of Revenge | [Robert Littell]

The Amateur: A Novel of Revenge

Charlie Heller is an ace cryptographer for the Company. He's a quiet man with a quiet job in a back office. But when terrorists shoot his fiancee in cold blood and Heller learns that the Agency has decided not to pursue those responsible, his life takes an abrupt turn. He was not a blackmailer but he will force the CIA's hand. He was not an assassin but he will penetrate the Iron Curtain with the intent to kill. Heller is an amateur with a one-in-a-million chance of success.
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Publisher's Summary

In a world of professionals, Charlie Heller is the Amateur, and he's at the center of a chillingly engrossing tale of espionage and intrigue, written by master-of-the-genre Robert Littell.

In this "first-rate thriller" (Chicago Tribune), Charlie Heller is an ace cryptographer for the Company. He's a quiet man with a quiet job in a back office. But when terrorists shoot his fiancee in cold blood and Heller learns that the Agency has decided not to pursue those responsible, his life takes an abrupt turn. He was not a blackmailer but he will force the CIA's hand. He was not an assassin but he will penetrate the Iron Curtain with the intent to kill. Driven by an obsessive need for revenge, targeted for elimination by the CIA itself, Heller is an amateur with a one-in-a-million chance of success.

With last year's publication of his New York Times best seller The Company, Robert Littell reestablished his position as one of our top writers of intelligent, ironic, and always entertaining espionage thrillers. After many years The Amateur, a cult classic among aficionados, is finally available in audio.

©1981 Robert Littell; (P)2003 New Millenium Audio, All Rights Reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Superb...real terror...a hall-of-mirrors showdown...plus last-minute twists...Littell is in top form." (Kirkus)
"A taut, chilling plot and a protagonist as memorable as one of Len Deighton's, or le Carre's George Smiley." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (560 )
5 star
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4.1 (134 )
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4.3 (131 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Edmund Lake Worth , FL, USA 08-11-05
    Edmund Lake Worth , FL, USA 08-11-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great"

    Littell and Brick again. Good stuff and a great way to spend a few hours.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maxine San Diego, CA 06-21-05
    Maxine San Diego, CA 06-21-05 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "Great book!"

    This was a great book! My mind was constantly racing trying to figure out each twist. In the end the book came together wonderfully.

    Scott Brick's narration is the best I've heard.

    A must read!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bodvar 03-28-07
    Bodvar 03-28-07 Member Since 2008

    Tell us about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    190
    5
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    "Intriguing paths."

    This is an interesting view of intrigue, loss, cynicism, romance, and finding the way back from the dead -to a new life.
    My recomendations.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Las Vegas, NV, USA 11-09-08
    Donald Las Vegas, NV, USA 11-09-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "The Worst"

    This is the worst book I have received from audible. It was agony to listen to the entire book. I kept thinking it was bound to get better. But alas, it was all downhill from the beginning. The story is completely unrealistic and even the attempts at humor are juvenile.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marius Irene, South Africa 01-30-08
    Marius Irene, South Africa 01-30-08 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amateur night"

    A reasonably good Cold War spy story, in the “ripping yarn” tradition yarn. Definitely enjoyable, but marred somewhat by having more holes than a machine-gunned Swiss Cheese. Scott Brick is excellent as a narrator, as usual.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Bloggs WASHINGTON, IL, United States 07-04-13
    Joe Bloggs WASHINGTON, IL, United States 07-04-13 Member Since 2011

    Simple Joe

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Spy Novel"
    If you could sum up The Amateur in three words, what would they be?

    Revenge


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not really


    Any additional comments?

    Set back in the early 80's the hero is a cryptologist working for the CIA when his fiance gets killed by a terrorist. Charlie wants revenge, but mysteriously the CIA wants to sit on their hands. Taking matters into his own hands, he sets out to do the job himself. Charlie pulls out all the stops and goes so far as to blackmail the CIA into helping him. He is an amateur that remains just one step ahead of the CIA and others by learning quickly and a healthy dose of pure luck. The book is clearly fictional, but threads of the real story are woven into this fictional account of what might have happened in real life. An exceptional book and I can't wait to start another by the same author.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 03-18-13
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 03-18-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good"

    I'm another one who loved The Company and had to try more of his writing. I knew from the reviews it wouldn't be as great as what I guess is his masterpiece, but I still enjoyed this one. I will continue with his other books as well in the future. I liked the definition of an amateur versus a professional, plus the window into cryptography.

    I see doing a Google search that there was a movie made of this book in 1981 in Canada, starring John Savage, Marthe Keller, with Christopher Plummer as the Czech intelligence officer on his trail. It gets a good review but is similar to The Odessa File, explaining why it perhaps didn't get the recognition it deserved.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick BROOKLYN, NY, United States 02-11-13
    Patrick BROOKLYN, NY, United States 02-11-13 Listener Since 2004
    ratings
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    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Too implausable for me"
    What did you like best about The Amateur? What did you like least?

    The best thing was the premise. The "facts" of the story were compelling. There were certainly some good moments and I liked the characters for the most part. I just found there were too many unbelievable circumstances, and some very heavy-handed foreshadowing.

    SEMI-SPOILER ALERT:
    Most of the surprises were not surprises at all. But the "x-ray death" was just plain silly, only to be topped by the "house of mirrors!" Implausible to say the least, contrived is being generous, but totally unnecessary (unless you hope to sell the book as a screenplay) to the point of destroying the continuity seems accurate. I liked The Company, but I found these predictable and fantastic "scenes" too over-the-top for me.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Littell again?

    I may give him one more chance, after I listen to all the le Carre.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    And the narration was excellent as usual for Scott Brick.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I would skip the movie for sure.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Halstead - The Leptonian United Kingdom 12-01-12
    Stephen Halstead - The Leptonian United Kingdom 12-01-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Amateur is unpredictable"

    Charlie Heller works for the CIA but he is not a professional spy. Revenge for the death of his girlfriend drives him. He is only an amateur in a world of professionals, that may seem a disadvantage, but his unpredictability turns into an asset. He goes behind the Iron Curtain seeking his revenge, and discovers that friends can be enemies and enemies can be friends. Did Shakespeare really write Shakespeare, the answer is in the stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FERNANDO HARTWIG Doral, FL, US 07-23-12
    FERNANDO HARTWIG Doral, FL, US 07-23-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well narrated packed with action"
    Where does The Amateur rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It ranks third, after The Company by the same witer and a book from King


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The sorcerer
    authentic


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    Excellent narrator. the best I know


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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