From the bestselling author of The Tourist comes a tale where a young man struggles to find his identity.

Olen Steinhauer’s crafty story, “The Start-Up,” begins as an affectionate recounting by Tom, a down-on-his-luck graduate caring for his sick mother and reconnecting with his awkward friend, Jerry McLaughlin. Jerry lives in a relative’s basement in Chicago, and over the intervening months the two young men contrive Jerry’s seemingly innocuous plan to become a super-villain in the spirit of Bond greats like Blofeld. Things turn dark, however, when Jerry’s plans find success, and he enlists the wayward Tom to help him expand his little start-up to the next level.

At turns witty and diabolical, “The Start-Up” is a fiendish take on both the spy genre, as well as the dangerous friendships of Highsmith, John le Carré, and others.

“Start-Up” by Olen Steinhauer is one of twenty short stories within Mulholland Books’s Strand Originals series, featuring thrilling stories by the most legendary authors in the Strand magazine archives. View the full series list at and read them all.

Editorial Reviews

“Narrator Jacob York nails the youthful, selfish, unemployed Tom of Olen Steinhauer’s short story…York’s dynamic approach to the two friends’ dialogue emphasizes Steinhauer’s dichotomy of lighthearted humor and dark events, while his atmosphere development heightens the suspense. At forty-five minutes, ‘Start-Up’ is a great audiobook for a workout, driving the heart rate up through the listening experience as well as exertion. Whether or not they want to sweat, crime-fiction fans should enjoy this story from Mulholland Books’s Strand Originals series.”


Author Biography

Olen Steinhauer is a New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, whose work has won the Dashiell Hammett Award, been a two-time Edgar Award finalist, and was shortlisted for the Anthony, the Macavity, the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and the Barry awards.

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