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The Cairo Affair: A Novel Hardcover – March 18, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: At a time when brutal Norwegian murder mysteries are still in fashion, it’s nice to get lost in a brainy, page-turner of a spy story, one that feels both classic and fresh. This is Steinhauer’s ninth novel, the first since his successful Tourist trilogy. A standalone, The Cairo Affair feels timely and relevant, cleverly relying on recent world events--a Wikileaks transcript, Gaddafi’s overthrow, the Arab Spring. More than an espionage thriller, this is a complicated geo-political story and, at its core, the story of a flawed marriage, full of betrayals and dangerous lies. It’s also an ambitious undertaking for Steinhauer. While his Tourist series featured rogue CIA agent Milo Weaver, The Cairo Affair is a complex narrative, entwining the stories of multiple characters, primarily a disloyal wife, her ex-lover, an Egyptian intelligence agent, and a CIA analyst. Pinballing across time and place, from Hungary to Libya, Yugoslavia to Egypt, featuring spooks named Rainman, Stumbler, and Sledgehammer, the puzzle pieces come together in a moody, low-tech, and unpredictable reveal. Having followed Steinhauer’s trajectory over the years, it’s a pleasure to experience a writer pushing himself--into le Carre territory, no less. --Neal Thompson
*Starred Review* One of the two best espionage novelists working today, Steinhauer follows his acclaimed Milo Weaver trilogy with a stunning stand-alone that is as emotionally rich as it is layered with intrigue. Budapest, March 2011: career diplomat Emmett Kohl is shot dead in a restaurant, in front of his disbelieving wife, Sophie. Determined to find out why, she follows a trail that leads to the American embassy in a tumultuous Cairo; to the revolution under way in neighboring Libya; to Langley, Virginia; and to her own ill-fated honeymoon in Eastern Europe. It has something to do with “Stumbler,” a CIA plan for regime change, but, as we shadow a half-dozen key players, the hows and whys prove maddeningly elusive—and, in the words of a veteran spy: “When you live in a house of mirrors, the only way to stay alive is to believe that every reflection is real.” A complex tale of the Arab Spring, WikiLeaks, the CIA, and a marriage, this leaves us with the unsettling feeling that, despite all the information won, lost, hoarded, and put to use, the world of intelligence is no stronger than the fragile, fallible humans who navigate it. It has become de rigeur to compare Steinhauer to le Carré, but it’s nearly time to pass the torch: for the next generation, it’s Steinhauer who will become the standard by which others are measured. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Given the success of Steinhauer’s last three books, the publisher is backing this one with a six-figure marketing campaign and a 150,000-copy print run. Patrons will be asking for it. --Keir Graff
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Top Customer Reviews
Simply put, to much about a weak immoral Sofia, a poor weak uninteresting character in Stan, and no main positive character who takes charge in the book. Mr Steinhauer, please go back to Milo Weaver's character
With consummate skill, Olen Steinhauer relates the tale of Sophie and Emmett through a mind-bending series of chapters, alternating from the point of view of one of the principal characters to another: Sophie and four men, all intelligence agents, who play major roles in her slowly growing understanding of how her life and that of her husband are linked to the Libyans. It’s a masterful display of plotting, not always fully unpredictable but nonetheless surprising to the very end. The action moves from Cairo to Budapest to Germany and the Libyan desert.
This is spy fiction at its best.
The Cairo Affair is the ninth of Olen Steinhauer’s ten spy novels. He began his career with a brilliant five-book cycle of thrillers set in a fictional Eastern European country that artfully portrayed a society under Communism, with one novel for each of the five decades starting with the 1940s. (You can find reviews of all five on this blog.) Later, he wrote a trilogy of best-selling stories featuring Milo Weaver of the CIA, which top reviewers ranked with John Le Carre’s classic spy novels as the best in the genre.
Subtly the book compels the readers to reassess their political and social values and it incites to question beliefs and motives. One cannot help but wonder whether the presence of different cultural groups in any society could arise negative feelings and aggressive behaviour in the main stream population at the first sign of a domestic crisis.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've seen and read so many spy movies and books yet this one has no match.Read more