Regular price: $24.47

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

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.

Critic Reviews

"Superb...real terror...a hall-of-mirrors 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 Ratings


  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Edmund
  • Lake Worth , FL, USA
  • 08-11-05


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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Maxi
  • San Diego, CA
  • 06-21-05

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Marius
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • 01-30-08

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

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • EUGENE, OREGON, United States
  • 01-20-17

A classic dilemma reminiscent of Tom Clanncy in strategy with the strategy of the Pink Pather with a dose of John LeCarre Twist

A classic ending with an O'Henry Twist and Suspense and intrigue of Tom Clancy or John Le'Carre

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fast-paced Edge-of-your-seat Spy Novel

I finished this book in two days. It is a well-constructed amazing tale of revenge, love, espionage. I love Robert Littell novels and Scott Brick is an amazing story teller. The Company is another must!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good Littel Writing Not "The Company"

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Joe Bloggs
  • WASHINGTON, IL, United States
  • 07-04-13

Excellent Spy Novel

If you could sum up The Amateur in three words, what would they be?


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.<br/><br/><br/><br/>

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Katherine
  • Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
  • 03-18-13


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.