One of The Boston Globe’s Best Mysteries of the Year
“A thought-provoking political thriller, a dark story for dark times.” – The Washington Post
With The Middleman, the perfect thriller for our tumultuous, uneasy time, Olen Steinhauer, the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, 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 four hundred 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 U.S. 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.
This smart polemical thriller from bestseller Steinhauer (All the Old Knives) starts off strong, but loses its way. On June 18, 2017, hundreds of people around the U.S. get a call, then discard their phones, credit cards, IDs and disappear. They are members of the Massive Brigade, a cult organized by social justice revolutionary Martin Bishop. He believes American politics has failed, and repairing it requires radical change, which appears to come about when simultaneous political assassinations are carried out at July 4 celebrations around the country. Steinhauer has captured a very contemporary, very American angst "people are going to have to pull a trigger, just to be heard" but the book's muddled second half will leave many readers frustrated because the polarities aren't that clear. Rachel Proulx, an earnest FBI agent, is obviously one of the good guys, but the ostensible bad guys are less well-delineated and the denouement is unsatisfying. Steinhauer fans will hope for a return to form next time. 150,000-copy first printing.)
Thought-provoking read. My fourth book read from Steinhauer and it has all of the complexity in characters I’ve come to expect.
Riffing on a few other reviews? Yes, it does start strong and then wallow a bit, but the story comes back around. The last 20% of the book had me tumbling downhill as it unfolded; page-turner stuff. Respectfully disagree with reviewer who said, “No plot.” If you miss the plot, you aren’t reading closely enough or keeping track of the myriad characters.
This novel started out very slow - almost gave up on it. It then picked up and became compelling and interesting. The conclusion however was a disappointment, almost as if the author had reached the required number of words and just quit. Hoping for better from Steinhauer next time.
Sorry to say, I have to give up. Am about 1/3 of the way through and this is so bad that I just can’t do it. Disjointed story, poorly developed characters, and naive/unrealistic narrative of how the “disappearance” of hundreds of people would be handled by federal and other law enforcement. I may be up for believing one impossible things before breakfast every day, but not six impossible things on every page. Very disappointed as I’ve enjoyed all of Steinhauer’s previous books.