Jeanne W. (Columbia, MD)
I can't exactly say what this book is about. A minor diplomat is shot in Budapest and it may or may not have anything to do with an affair his wife had in Cairo. She heads to Cairo to find out who murdered him. A CIA agent in DC thinks his plan to topple the Libyan government is being put into action. He meets with the diplomat shortly before he's shot. Then there are the diplomats/spies in Cairo and everybody seems to be selling/giving information to everybody else. This book requires at least a basic knowledge of the Arab Spring and Egyptian/Libyan/US politics. If you don't have that you will probably feel lost as I frequently did. The book toggles back and forth in time and in perspective and that added to the confusion for me. The book ends abruptly and I felt like the last few pages were missing. Maybe there's a sequel planned?
There's lots of intrigue but I feel that a more linear telling of the story would have been clearer.
Constance C. (Manchester, NH)
the cairo affair
I have read the Milo Weaver series by Olen Steinhauer and was looking forward to this book. I was not disappointed , anyone who likes spy novels, in the John Le Carre , Len Deighton vein, needs to pick this up. Its a great read, can't put down complex plot, multilayered. The chapters are divided as written by the main characters , it is a portrait of a marriage, betrayal and dangerous political games. 5 stars and well deserved!
Michele W. (Kiawah Island, SC)
The main character in The Cairo Station is Sophie. A Harvard graduate who married a fellow Harvard grad in 1991, Sophie agreed with husband Emmett that America wasn't where real life was happening. They went to Eastern Europe on their honeymoon, Sophie acquiescing despite her desire to see Paris, and then spent a few days in a small village in the Balkans just as the war was heating up. There they met Zora, a mysterious and compelling woman who showed them the sights. Two incidents from this time haunted Sophie in future years. First, her souvenir bust of Lenin was stolen by a child in the streets, and second, they became involved in a life and death situation whose details comprise the better part of the plot and take a while to emerge. Suffice to say that both incidents seemed to impact Sophie equally, though the latter would be the one to cause trouble 20 years later when they were stationed with the US government in Cairo and Zora turned up again.
In early 2011, the Arab Spring had begun. The Libyans were in revolt, and Cairo was abuzz. Agents from different countries vied for information. It was impossible to tell who was lying, who was just ignorant, and what the heck was going on. Were the Americans trying to hijack the revolution now that the Libyan masses had taken first steps to freedom themselves, or was Ghadafi using an old CIA plan to rid himself of opponents? Here begins the real plot, and suddenly the book becomes all about misdirection. Stories are told and retold from different perspectives. Characters speculate about the myriad possibilities. Is X lying? Does he even know what's going on? What if this is true? On the other hand, maybe that is true? What is truth? Who can know? Who are the heroes, which of the characters has altruistic motives and which are cynical? Which are devoted to their country and which to money? As the story unfolds, refolds and unfolds again, the extent of Sophie's involvement becomes clear, layer by layer.
The writing is average. The character development is average for a thriller. An attempt was made to explain the various motivations of the characters, but failed in my opinion. Sometimes I actually cringed at the sex scenes. I was put off by the cliches about Americans--there is a scene at Logan Airport near the end which was offensive and filled with trite observations. The plot was average. The misdirection was massive and tried my patience.
I would give it an average grade overall.
Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)/East Lake Community L
I LOVED this book.I am generally not a spy/thriller reader but this story was so current and gripping. Keeping track of the various characters was simple as the author flowed the story seamlessly. That the "main" character was a woman was a big plus for me. Their secrets, international agendas, moral questions and BIG betrayals. What more could you look for in a thriller? The tying in of the Arab Spring made the story even more immediate. Highly recommended!
Georgette I. (Oxford, GA)
The Cairo Affair
Rarely has a book captured my attention from the first to last page, but The Cario Affair by Olen Steinhauer did just that. This contemporary spy novel is fast paced yet easy to follow. Although different time periods are used to unravel the story line, recent events surrounding the "Arab Spring" bring this novel full circle. I highly recommend this terrific read.
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
Current events come to life
A well-written, fast read that is marvelously entertaining. Steinhauer uses multiple viewpoints to great effect. His characters are believable, and appropriately complicated. The story unfolds in an unexpected, but completely plausible manner. The way he uses recent events in the Middle East is quite remarkable. Highly recommended.