“The Last Tourist” is not about casual vacationing in beautiful exotic locations. It is about espionage, secrets, “black ops” groups, terrorism, politics, and general threats to peace everywhere. Readers get to know Abdul Ghali through his first person narrative. He shares his thoughts about his family and the journey to his job in “data” at the CIA. He spends a lot of time developing a complete background for readers including his own unique background as an “outsider,” from a disputed desert expanse just south of Morocco called Western Sahara. While he is not sure why he was selected for this task despite his connections to the region; others have an opinion. “Now I know why they sent you…You’re expendable.” But there is another reason as well, a bigger more important reason.
The book is divided into three blocks of time. The story begins in January 2019, and readers learn about the players, the preparations, and the mission. Then, the narrative goes back four months in a detailed backstory that shows why the mission was necessary, and how the players got to the January situation. Finally, readers follow everyone to the “conclusion” of this mission. Steinhauer created a thriller where the geography is as detailed as the characters. Pages are filled with local flavor, and the specifics make this exotic setting real for readers. “Milo Weaver is there because it’s an excellent place to hide.” This exact story could not have taken place anywhere else.
“The Last Tourist” starts as the story of an interview and a desert rescue, but things are not that simple. The plot is complex and filled with political intrigue, counter intelligence, undercover spies, and abundant dirty tricks. I received a review copy of “The Last Tourist” from Olen Steinhauer, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books. It is book four in the Milo Weaver series, but I did not realize this until after I finished the book. It certainly stands alone, and is a unique and interesting way to advance a series.