The Amateur Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Amateur

Charlie Heller's specialty at the CIA is breaking and creating codes. His hobby is looking for encoded clues in the writings of Shakespeare that would identify someone else as having written the plays he is credited with. He also has a fiancee whose smile is so soft and natural that it makes the person she's smiling at feel physically warm.
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When a band of terrorists murders Sarah, Charlie is devastated. The only thing that can bring him back to life, he believes, is the death of the terrorists who murdered her. But the CIA seems to be taking little interest in tracking them down. However, to help bring closure to Charlie, they show him the photographs they have of the two men and a woman in the murderous band. Charlie decided to go to Czechoslovakia and capture or kill the terrorists himself. The CIA is, understandably, unwilling to send someone whose skills are entirely cerebral into a dangerous assassination assignment. But there seems to be something more, and Charlie must use all his ingenuity to convince the agency to train him and send him into the assignment.
Charlie discovers almost immediately after crossing the Czech border that the CIA is trying to kill him. He finds temporary safety with an agent he knows only because this agent has trouble understanding how to encode messages, making Charlie's job much harder. Together, they go after the killers.
As the pair travels through Prague, they discover that the Russians, the CIA and the terrorists are all out to get them. With a lot of luck, tactics and the help of the Czechs, they are able to get out of the country alive. The head of Czech intelligence, known as “The Professor,” is as interested in Charlie's Shakespeare studies as in his spying.

The review of this Book prepared by David Gordon

Chapter Analysis of The Amateur

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 30%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) Time/era of story:    -   1960's-1970's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes Cloak & Dagger Plotlets:    -   preventing/finding assassin    -   govt. doing secret bad things abroad Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Who's the terrorist enemy here?    -   spy ring Is Romance a MAJOR (25%+) part of story?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   spy Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Mid-Atlantic states Europe    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Robert Littell Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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