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Publisher's Summary

"Steinhauer once again demonstrates his mastery in creating suspense.... Ari Fliakos calmly narrates while capturing colorfully the array of characters in this multilayered book." (Washington Post

In The Middleman, Olen Steinhauer, New York Times best-selling author of 10 titles, including The Tourist and The Cairo Affair, delivers a compelling portrait of a nation on the edge of revolution, and the deepest motives of the men and women on the opposite sides of the divide.  

One day in the early summer of 2017, about 400 people disappear from their lives. They leave behind cell phones, credit cards, jobs, houses, families - everything - all on the same day. Where have they gone? Why? The only answer, for weeks, is silence.  

Kevin Moore is one of them. Former military, disaffected, restless, Kevin leaves behind his retail job in San Francisco, sends a good-bye text to his mother, dumps his phone and wallet into a trash can, and disappears.  

The movement calls itself the Massive Brigade, and they believe change isn't coming fast enough to America. But are they a protest organization, a political movement, or a terrorist group? What do they want? The FBI isn't taking any chances. Special Agent Rachel Proulx has been following the growth of left-wing political groups in the US since the fall of 2016, and is very familiar with Martin Bishop, the charismatic leader of the Massive Brigade. But she needs her colleagues to take her seriously in order to find these people before they put their plan - whatever it is - into action.  

What Rachel uncovers will shock the entire nation, and the aftermath of her investigation will reverberate through the FBI to the highest levels of government.  

©2018 Third State, Inc. (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Middleman is smart and entertaining and consistently intriguing" (New York Times Book Review)

"The Middleman, with its abundance of multidimensional characters and political viewpoints, is a thought-provoking novel that never ceases to excite as a thriller." (Wall Street Journal)  

"Ari Fliakos skillfully delivers this bullet train of a plot in which the scariest part is not knowing whom to trust or root for. Voice and pacing are crucial as FBI agent Rachel Proulx races to unravel a snarl of idealism, cynicism, paranoia, and lies threatening her country and life. Fliakos's deft delivery makes this a riveting listen." (AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 08-18-18

That is why fiction existed...

“That is why fiction existed, as a way to look at the world without being broken by it.”
Olen Steinhauer, The Middleman

I'm an Olen Steinhauer completist again. I keep hoping for Steinhauer to step up a level to John le Carré or even Don DeLillo, perhaps. Either one. But I think he is happy to stay close to Robert Harris level. Good spy fiction just not compelling literature. Seriously, I think Steinhauer has the talent but either just not the interest or the money (or both) to step it up.

Am I being hard? No. I look back at his earliest novels as his best. I would rather re-read The Yalta Blvd sequence than the Tourist trilogy, but those (Yalta Blvd) novels aren't likely to be optioned into movies. Am I sorry I read this? Oh, no. Don't get me wrong. I'm trying to obliquely criticize a pretty good domestic terrorism/spy thriller that backs into the Tourist zone. It was worth both my money and my time. I've just walked away from the last couple Steinhauer novels wishing he would have spent a bit more time amping up the paranoia, setting the mood, building the characters and less time worrying what Hollywood would buy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not very exciting, nothing unexpected

This was a different kind of book for me. I typically read thrillers, and this is advertised as a thriller, but I definitely didn't feel like it was. Does it have action? Yes. But a thriller, no. I felt myself getting bored by the book. There are some interesting parts of the book, but it wasn't able to hold my attention. I am used to books that make it impossible to put down or impossible to stop listening. This one did not, as much as I wanted and hoped it would. The ending isn't predictable, but I wasn't shocked or surprised. It just kind of ended without too much pomp and circumstance.

Also, for those of you who don't like books with a specific political bend then beware. There is an obvious left-leaning narrative behind the words. I didn't have an issue with that, and I can appreciate novels on either side of the aisle, but I there are those people who do not like reading books that are very obviously opposite of them politically, so keep that in mind.

Ari Fliakos is a fantastic narrator, and that's worth noting. I have loved all of his narration. Unfortunately, the story that he tells fell a little short for me in this book.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

1970's 2017<br />

Tragedy plus Time is not Comedy. It is Amnesia. Hipocrisy and selfishness are glue for the stability of democracy. Give Martin Bishop, Milo Weaver and Rachel Proutz a chance and the benefit of a break... Five Stars.

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  • B. Kazior
  • Los Angeles, Ca United States
  • 08-15-18

A Timely and Compelling Listen

I have yet to become jaded by rollercoaster thrillers, and as a result this novel was difficult to stop listening. There are plenty of ideas to contemplate and to debate, tense situations to keep one on the edge of their seat, and plausible scenarios to make one wonder if this was "ripped from the headlines."

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in current political events with a side of intrigue. The characters are sufficiently developed to make them believable, but not so deeply developed that would turn off casual listeners, and the story moves at a good pace.

The last time I was so engaged with a book was when I listened to "Nobel House," but that is in a whole other category.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful