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Every bit a thriller
This book had my full attention from the beginning and it kept increasing. From the turn of the first page until the turn of the last page I was completely and totally immersed. Steinhauer designed a climax worth noticing and since this novel is similar to a maze he masterfully succeeded. An amateur could not have pulled the apex off but Steinhauer is not an amateur.
Shirley F. (Franksville, WI)
Cairo is vividly described, you take in the environment and its senses. The characters seem 'real' and immediately you find yourself involved in their presence. The spies are human and not overly theatrical or dramatized, rather every day people doing what they do. With their 'real' portrayal it causes the reader to be empathetic, you have an understanding of the reasons they did what they did. If they were portrayed in another fashion I am certain having this unspoken understanding and empathy would not be possible.
Reading The Cairo Affair was similar to finding your way out of an intricate maze, just when you think you have grasped the maze you are wrong - every bit a spy thriller with numerous suspenseful moments. No question this would make for an incredible movie, no small undertaking but incredible in the very least but the book will always reign supreme - far too many details to translate to film without taking away from its beauty, huge undertaking, perhaps a possibility in talented hands.
Steinhauer crafted an outstanding piece of work in both writing and narrative with multiple heart stopping moments, character driven and every ounce a thriller.
I enjoyed most of this book although the changing viewpoints made Part IV a little difficult to follow. I didn't especially like the characters (which is not to say that I didn't like the book) but was intrigued by their changing roles throughout the book and I could empathize with many of them.
George M. (Antioch, CA)
The Cairo Affair. Extraordinary
I would say my knowledge of the various governments and coups in the Middle East is perfunctory at best, and as a result, I may have missed some of the importance of the activities in the book, but I got the story along with the layered identities and multiple betrayals inherent in any spy novel. The author used the exotic locations of Eastern Europe, Egypt and Libya for backdrops to his story, and added current (2011) political events to enhance the intrigue to the book.
I was disappointed in the ambiguous ending and would have liked more closure especially for Sophie. John was dropped after page 228, then showed up again on page 407 without anything in between. And I still don't know the significance of the boy on the bridge who threw the statue of Lenin in the river or why Sophie kept thinking about it - it really didn't add much to move the story along.
From the very first sentence I was pulled into a tense and exciting thriller, reminiscent of Le Carre. What a white knuckle adventure, set in today's Arab turmoil. A tale of romance. Of intrigue. Of betrayal. The Cairo Affair is something to be savored. Take your time reading it, because you will not want it to end.
Nanette S. (Indiana)
The Cairo Affair
Intrigue and mystery wind through this tale of espionage, deceit, and double dealing. The author infuses all aspects of spycraft into his characters and their actions. The story begins with Sophie, who must decide who to trust when trying to find out who and why her husband, Emmett, a diplomat, was killed while they were having lunch in a Budapest restaurant, Emmett had just confronted her about an affair she had when they were living in Cairo. No sooner had he brought up the subject, a strange man had entered the restaurant, shot him dead, and walked out.
The Cairo Affair
Good story with different points of view used to portray Sophie's actions, although it is sometimes confusing to decipher what time frame, present or past, is being described.
Good story line about spies, diplomats and government agencies, and how they interact with information, secrets and intel collected while living overseas with their allies. You get various points of view from the characters about how they give and receive their needed information and what to do with it once it has been received. Can you rely on the information you've gotten? What do you do with it once you've received it?
Mary O. (Boston, MA)
Twists and Turns
That is all something that Sophie must decide when her husband, a diplomat, has just been killed in front of her in a restaurant in Budapest. Why was he a target? Did it have something to do with her affair while living in Cairo? or was it something her husband was working on?
It is sometimes a bit confusing to remember which character you are reading about and if you are in the present or in a flashback, but still a book worth reading. This is my first Olen Steinhauer book I have read and plan on reading some of his earlier material.
This is a multiple-faceted spy novel of international espionage set in the a Middle East. It is fast paced, at times a real page turner, with some unexpected twists and turns. There is good character development and depiction of the culture in the Middle East. A very enjoyable read if you are a lover of espionage novels!
Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer
I had some trouble reading this book, hence my delay in reviewing it. I wanted to give some time to my thoughts. It is well-written, characters are clearly drawn and, while not as clear and enticing as in some books, the tedious nature of most espionage is well-described, almost too well. I had trouble with the style of the book: there were a lot of flashbacks and flashforths, present to past and back again and I tended to lose the thread of the story. However, my biggest problem with the story is that there is not one redeeming feature in any of the characters. They all use each other and are essentially "in it for the money" rather than any even-remotely noble cause. The only character who seems to have had any "virtue" at all is dead before the book starts!
Rosemary T. (San Antonio, TX)
The Cairo Affair
Although Stenhauser might be billed as the master of spy novels, I found The Cairo Affair disappointing. It took me over half the novel to connect all the names and piece together a storyline. The premise that an American could so easily betray their country and loved one because they were bored and looking for excitement was very disturbing to me.