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<DIV><P>Sophie Kohl is living her worst nightmare. Minutes after she confesses to her husband, a mid-level diplomat at the American embassy in Hungary, that she had an affair while they were in Cairo, he is shot in the head and killed.<BR><BR>Stan Bertolli, a Cairo-based CIA agent, has fielded his share of midnight calls. But his heart skips a beat when he hears the voice of the only woman he ever truly loved, calling to ask why her husband has been assassinated.<BR><BR>Omar Halawi has worked in Egyptian intelligence for years, and he knows how to play the game. Foreign agents pass him occasional information, he returns the favor, and everyone's happy. But the murder of a diplomat in Hungary has ripples all the way to Cairo, and Omar must follow the fall-out wherever it leads.<BR><BR>American analyst Jibril Aziz knows more about Stumbler, a covert operation rejected by the CIA, than anyone. So when it appears someone else has obtained a copy of the blueprints, Jibril alone knows the danger it represents.<BR><BR>As these players converge in Cairo in <I>The Cairo Affair</I>, Olen Steinhauer's masterful manipulations slowly unveil a portrait of a marriage, a jigsaw puzzle of loyalty and betrayal, against a dangerous world of political games where allegiances are never clear and outcomes are never guaranteed.</DIV>
<p><strong>An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014:</strong> 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 <em>Tourist</em> trilogy. A standalone, <em>The Cairo Affair</em> 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 <em>Tourist</em> series featured rogue CIA agent Milo Weaver, <em>The Cairo Affair</em> 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. <em>--Neal Thompson</em></p>