ARC · book review · Minotaur Books · NetGalley · St. Martin's Press

The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer

The Middleman

2 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: August 7th, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Where you can find The Middleman: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

New York Times bestselling author Olen Steinhauer’s next sweeping espionage novel traces the rise and fall of a domestic left-wing terrorist group. Told from the individual perspectives of an FBI agent, an undercover agent within the group, a convert to the terrorist organization, and a writer on the edges of the whole affair, this is another tightly wound thriller, and an intimate exploration of the people behind the politics, from a master of suspense.

My review:

I made a mistake when I got The Middleman from NetGalley. I wasn’t paying attention, thought I hit the Read Now button for another book and ended up with this one instead. I do not like political/espionage thrillers. I have read them, even reviewed them, in the past. I can’t get into the books. So, I wasn’t very happy when I realized what I did. But, I decided to suck it up.

I couldn’t get into the book. I struggled to finish it. If I didn’t have a personal goal of not DNF’ing a book, then it would have been DNF’d and forgotten about. But, I stuck it out. It took me 4 nights to finish this book. 4 torturous nights of me falling asleep while reading. That is something I rarely do.

I did like the plot. It was something that I could see happening in real life. 400 young people disappearing all at once. All 400 have traces to a domestic terrorist group. Told from 4 different POV’s, this should have been a riveting book. Instead, I ended up getting bored with the book halfway through. If the author had stuck with one or two POV’s, then it would have worked. But with 4 different ones. Well, I had a hard time keeping track of everything. Even with the chapters marked.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. It drove me nuts because I need to have at least 1 connection in the book. I didn’t have any.

I did feel that the book did fit in with the mystery genre pretty well. The story with the 2nd in command of the terrorist group was well-played out. I didn’t see him being who he was until it was explained at the end. As for the thriller genre, not so much. I kept losing attention, which isn’t good in a thriller. You need to be sucked into a thriller book and then spit out at the end feeling. The Middleman didn’t do that. The same thing goes for suspense. The book should have been fast-paced right from the start. Instead, it started off slowly. It did pick up steam by the middle of the book, only to slow down by the end of the book. Very frustrating to read.

I do feel that there was a huge hole in the plotline in the middle of the book. Take for instance Rachel being in the hospital. I had to reread the chapters leading up to her being injured for any mention of her getting hurt. There was nothing. But suddenly, she was on medical leave from a bad injury. Made 100% no sense to me. There are a few more examples but I don’t want to make a novel out of my review.

There was also some lag in the plotline. One right around Rachel’s injury. The other was when Kevin was in Europe, chasing leads all over the place. The author recovered very well but still.

The end of The Middleman was confusing. Not in the sense how it ended. I agreed with the explanations that Rachel got about the case. It was the ending involving another key character. I kind of shook my head and wondered “Why was she there? How did she get there?” I was also left wondering if that group was going to be reborn. Something about what the men were talking about made me wonder that. There were also some unfinished storylines that made me go “Huh“. I hate it when storylines are left unfinished. I hate it even more when it was attached to a major storyline. No closure makes me cranky.

Why I rated The Middleman 2 stars. There were huge holes in the plotline mid-book. There were dropped storylines. There were too many POV’s. There were some things that I did like about The Middleman. I did like the plot. I felt that the mystery angle of the book was well written.

What I liked about The Middleman (to recap):

A) The plot

B) The mystery angle of the book was well written.

What I disliked about The Middleman (to recap):

A) Huge holes in the plotline

B) Dropped storyline

C) Too many POV’s

I would give The Middleman an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is graphic violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would not reread The Middleman. I would not recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Middleman.

All opinions stated in this review of The Middleman are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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