Set in the turbulence of recent events in North Africa and the past turbulence of the Balkans, The Cairo Affair is a wonderful spy and political thriller in which betrayal – both marital and political – and the ever widening circle of deceit, lying, death, and pain which comes with betrayal, is the main theme. Centered on the history of an American diplomat, Emmett Kohl and his wife Sophie, Olen Stienhauer weaves a twisting and turning narrative of multiple subplots with a cast of characters who are shown in all their humanness and flaws.
When Emmett is murdered in a crowded Budapest restaurant in front of his wife Sophie, who has just confessed to having an affair, a chain of events is set in place that drives Sophie to return to Cairo, where Emmett had previously been stationed, to find out who had murdered him and why. The search takes the reader on a journey twenty years into the past when the Kohl’s come face to face with the developing conflict in Yugoslavia and choices made there that will affect them for the rest of their lives. As Sophie seeks answers, a plan, long thought dead, to take over the Libyan revolution by the CIA, crosses her path and we are thrust headlong in the political intrigue and danger which affects, to one degree or another, the cast of characters and the stability of North Africa, including Egypt, dealing with its own issues.
In a style in which overlapping point-of-view narratives by key characters move us closer to finding out who ordered Emmett’s murder, Stienhauer does a great job of keeping us guessing at every turn as to who it was and why. The result is truly a page turner which takes us under the skin and into the hearts, minds, and motivations of people tasked with keeping and uncovering secrets – which are often sold to the highest bidder.
This was my first Olen Stienhauer novel. It won’t be my last. It kept my interest from beginning to end with wonderful characters and a narrative style using overlapping points of view.
I rate this book a ‘great’ read!
To be published by Minotaur Books on March 18, 2014
Note: I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from Amazon Vine in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review