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Amateur Spy, The: A Novel

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  250 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Burned out by years of humanitarian-aid work, Freeman and Mila Lockhart have retreated to an idyllic Greek island. But on the first night of their new life they are surprised by three intruders who seem to know everything about—including a haunting secret he has long kept from Mila. They use it to blackmail him into spying on an old Palestinian friend in Jordan. Overnight, ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 0 pages
Published February 28th 2009 by Brilliance Audio (first published July 12th 2007)
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Richard Derus
Rating: 3* of five

The Book Description: The Amateur Spy recasts the spy novel for the post-9/11 world—anyone might be watching, everyone is suspect. 

Freeman Lockhart, a humanitarian aid worker, and his Bosnian wife, have just retired to a charming house on a Greek island. On their first night, violent intruders blackmail Freeman into spying on an old Palestinian friend living in Jordan. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a Palestinian-American named Aliyah Rahim is worried about her husband, who b
Charles Matthews
Got plot?

It’s the one thing a thriller writer has to have, and the one thing a reviewer must not reveal very much of. Which makes reviewing thrillers difficult because, frankly, most thrillers don’t have much of anything else.

Dan Fesperman has two good plots in his new novel, “The Amateur Spy.” Here are their setups.

Freeman Lockhart, a retired United Nations aid worker, is blackmailed into spying on an old friend. He doesn’t even know which country he’s spying for, or what his handlers, who seem
Kent Babin
The first four books by this author were wonderful, so my expectations coming into this one were quite high. Within the first few pages, however, I felt that something wasn't quite right. It seemed as though Fesperman strayed away from what made his first books so entertaining: a cerebral plot that increases in complexity and rich descriptions of life in faraway places. What I found instead was pages of backstory and a long wait to find out what was worth all of the risk for Freeman. Things impr ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not my usual genre but I am making an effort to read books set in different countries around the world. This was the one I selected for Jordan, I have already read Lawrence of Arabia.

This is a good story with believable and interesting characters. There are two stories one set in the USA with a doctor and his wife and a second set in Greece then Jordan taking in other countries along the way as the main character \freeman remembers his past work in different places as an Aid worker.

It is
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You do have to pay attention while reading this book or you lose who's who. But it is an interesting spy thriller set in the Middle East, that part of the world that is always in the news, and involves someone who has become angry because of mistreatment of his family because of discrimination based on their last name - a Palestinian name - even though they are American citizens. This truly goes on, and we must be more aware of how it affects everyone involved. We must not judge people based on ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers-spy
Interesting to read a spy novel published in 2007, how dated the world situation it portrays is. It takes place in the Middle East, but no ISIS, no Syrian war, no millions of refugees (only Palestinian refugees).
Also the main protagonist is a rather naive amateur (see the title) -- I find I much prefer the ones where the lead character actually has some expertise rather than bumbling around making things worse.
Nancy Ellis
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost didn't get past page 70 with this book. It started out with everything I can't stand to read or hear about....the UN and its "humanitarian" work, the poor downtrodden "palestinians", and.....well, you get the point. It is so well written, however, that I couldn't help but be drawn into the story, even though I never could stand any of the characters in the book. I did love one quote in particular on page 285: "In Jerusalem, belief as a form of aggression achieved near perfection. Whethe ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fic
Freeman Lockhart, retired aid worker, moves to a remote Greek island with his wife, only to be blackmailed into spying on an old friend in Jordan. Lockhart travels to Amman and fumbles his way through an adventure complete with lies, threats, and bombs. Like most of Fesperman's adventures, this story is easy to read and entertaining. While Fesperman expertly describes the political and physical reality in the Middle East, the plot is flawed. Characters operate under unclear motivation and threat ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Corny by: Previous novels by same author
Fesperman's novels have always been intricately plotted with lots of local color and clearly well researched venues all over the world. This book is disappointing. While the local color is still there, this time Amman, Jerusalem, and Greece, the plot is truly absurd and leaves many loose ends. The characters, unlike previous novels, are not believable, especially the moody surgeon Abbas and the enigmatic Omar. Very little makes sense and although you are carried along by the narrative for many p ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Could have been much better. I guess it works well enough for a spy story, but if you know anything about the middle east you get frustrated with the depictions of Jordan and the Palestinian issue. Plus, I found it a bit offensive that their were two main protaginists, but the story of the white american was told in first person, while the arab-american woman was told in third.
Gary Sedivy
Good tale of a professor-type being blackmailed into going to the Middle East to get information on some shadow terrorist group. He has been a UN aid worker and observer, and has 'friends' in the area. Even though he knows the language and some of the people, he has no idea what is actually happening. I liked it.
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read 3 of Dan's books recently because I got caught up in his ability to spin a tale about current events that have left us with so many unanswered questions and concerns. This was my second on my list of favorites written by him, The Prisoner of Guantamo being my favorite.
Nina Chachu
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
At various points throughout this book I kept wondering whether the narrator, Freeman Lockhart, was indeed what he said he was - an amateur spy. Even now I still wonder to what extent he was telling the truth. So a lot of questions raised, and many not answered. But a fun read, nevertheless.
Jun 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite my 3 rating, I enjoyed the book. It was my first Fesperman and his intricate and slow plotting is the sort of mystery/spy novel I like. The plot doesn't really hang together in spots but ... well, I enjoyed it.
Katherine Clark
This is one of those books I wish I could choose 2 1/2. It took me a long time to read this book. It moved vry slowly. I just finished it, and I have to say I am not completely satisfied with it. It is well written, and I am curious about his other books, but I guess I'm a little confused by it.
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty good read storie was a bit predictable
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Too much international, and Islam/Jew intrigue.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad yarn if you like spy mysteries.
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent entertaining Tom Clancy shorter taking place post 9/11.
Interesting plot twists with plenty of people intrigue
Sep 11, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Pick by Mark from The Economist - got good review. Should be out in US soon.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall an interesting concept, and some of it was really well written. However, there was so much exposition, and so little actual plot that I couldn't get into it.
Pris Campbell
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. The characters were a stretch at times, but the setting was detailed and rich in impressions of an area of the world most of us have read about but not seen.
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
That you can never trust those development professionals are telling the truth about who they are!
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why have I never heard of this author before??? I thought this was an outstanding spy story, with real characters & a believable plot.
Sal Fernz
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very engaging read. Even though I am shallow and self-centered, the author was able to put me inside the mind of a career aid-worker.
Christopher Culp
Terrific location dewcriptions and atmospherics, but the plot and characters could have been stronger.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again, I very much enjoy the characters and the stories Dan Fesperman creates.
Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Very good.
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Dan Fesperman’s travels as a writer have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Asso ...more
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“In Jerusalem, belief as a form of aggression achieved near perfection. Whether you went deep in the earth or climbed the highest hill, someone's faith would track you down, catch you in its sights, and demand that you choose sides.” 1 likes
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