What do you expect out of your thrillers?

I expressed some opinions about this on Twitter, but thought I would make it a full blown post of its own.

Marilyn Stasio reviews Olen Steinhauer’s [amazon-product region=”us” text=”The Tourist” type=”text”]0312369727[/amazon-product] in the NYTBR.  She seems to struggle with it because it lacks the sort of straightforward plot you would expect of a international thriller.  After praising the central character Milo Weaver she drops in her frustrations:

The only drawback to this warm close-up of the protagonist is that it skews the novel, rendering it more of a character study than a full-bodied espionage novel. There’s plenty of plot, but it’s messy rather than complex; and while the cast is thickly populated with career spooks from France, Russia, China, Sudan and components of the former Yugoslavia, few of them develop into worthy adversaries, and their agendas are so murky that we’re not particularly anxious to get back to them.

I think this is true to a certain degree but besides the point.  I don’t think Steinhauer was attempting to write am espionage novel in the traditional sense.  I have been arguing instead is that he is attempting to use elements of the thriller and espionage genre and yet write more literary novels.

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