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)
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.
It ranks third, after The Company by the same witer and a book from King
Excellent narrator. the best I know
I'm thinking closer to 3 1/2 stars. I almost quit listening about 1/2 way thru because it was getting pretty boring, but then things started to pick up a bit. I doubt I'd listen to this book again, and while I don't feel like I wasted a credit, I didn't get as much book as I had hoped for.
Littell and Brick go very well together. I wish more authors could write like Littell and more narrators were like Brick. A great 8 hours story. Never boring. I always tend to enjoy longer books, but occasionally a shorter book is a breath of fresh air. This is an excellent choice for a shorter book that feels longer. I will definitely listen to all of Littell's books.
This was my first book by the author. After reading the reviews of the authors books I was interested in getting the Company, but it???s a 40 hour book. So I decided to test the waters with this one first and ignore some of the negative reviews others have given ??? and was glad I did. I found it to be an excellent and completely enjoyable listen. Just the right level of character and plot development. The author made this unlikely hero a truly interesting character and provided just the right level of detail for the supporting characters.
I really don???t understand the criticism others are making and glad I ignored them and gave this one a try. I actually wish it would have been a longer book with more detail.
I also enjoyed the narration of Scott Brick who continues to show why he is one of the best - at least in my mind.
So I just got the company and have settled in for, what I hope to be, some enjoyable commutes. If you like this genre, and agree with some of my past reviews, you can trust me that you won't be disappointed.
Unlike Littell's very good book "The Company" this book has no surprises in it - one can see the end from the beginning. Not very believable.
While the overall story has potential, the author decides to bring the book to a grinding halt 1/3 of the way in. Once the terrorists kill the girl, the next 2 hrs. are a waste of "character building". Extremely boring until he leaves for the Czech Republic. And then the ending was a disappointment as well (in the warehouse). At least I know what Guinea Fowl are now.
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