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.
"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)
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!
Tell us about yourself!
This is an interesting view of intrigue, loss, cynicism, romance, and finding the way back from the dead -to a new life.
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.
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.
It is an interesting book. I like that revenge is satisfied. Though, the intricacies of "The Company" are wholly different then what happens in the Amateur. I do not think that is reason, not to read it, but to better set your expectations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I may give him one more chance, after I listen to all the le Carre.
And the narration was excellent as usual for Scott Brick.
I would skip the movie for sure.
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.
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