Lots, according to Olen Steinhauer's The Tourist, in whose world the collapse of the Other Side has given birth to a range of Other Sides: Chinese industrialists, Russian mafias, Islamic insurgents among them.
This fractured geopolitical scorecard is just one of the things that make The Tourist seem new, at least to this infrequent reader of thrillers. Here are a few more:
1) Frequent mention of characters' ages, many of those characters in their twenties or early thirties. This has an internal purpose, but I suspect it's also Steinhauer's way of reminding the reader that the international thriller is alive, well and still a young man's and woman's game two decades after the U.S.S.R.'s collapse.
2) An occasional wryly mocking attitude:
"Milo decided that while his coworkers devoted themselves to finding the Most Famous Muslim in the World somewhere in Afghanistan, he would spend his time on terrorism's more surgical arms."3) An amusing poke at one of the dumbest songs of the last thirty years:
"`Why `the Tiger'?'Do political and spy thrillers have a shorter shelf life thanks to events such as the end of the Soviet Union and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001? What does it take to keep such a story fresh? What are your favorite classic spy stories?
"`Precisely! However, the truth is a disappointment. I have no idea. Someone, somewhere, first used it. Maybe a journalist, I don't know. I guess that, after the Jackal, they needed an animal name.' He shrugged—again it looked painful. `I suppose I should be pleased they didn't choose a vulture—or a hedgehog. And no—before you think to ask, let me assure you I wasn't named after the Survivor song.'"
© Peter Rozovsky 2010