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Publisher's Summary

Nine years ago terrorists hijacked a plane in Vienna. Somehow a rescue attempt staged from the inside went terribly wrong, and everyone onboard was killed.
Members of the CIA stationed in Vienna during that time were witness to this terrible tragedy, gathering intel from their sources during those tense hours, assimilating facts from the ground with a series of texts coming from one of their agents inside the plane. So when it all went wrong, the question had to be asked: Had their agent been compromised, and how?
Two of those agents, Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, were lovers at the time, and in fact that was the last night they spent together. Until now. That night Celia decided she'd had enough; she left the agency, married, and had children, and is living an ordinary life in the suburbs. Henry is still an analyst, and has traveled to California to see her one more time, to relive the past, maybe, or to put it behind him once and for all.
But neither of them can forget that long-ago question: Had their agent been compromised, and how? And each of them wonders what role tonight's dinner companion might have played in the way things unfolded.
All the Old Knives is Olen Steinhauer's most intimate, most cerebral, and most shocking novel to date - from the New York Times best-selling author deemed by many to be John le Carré's heir apparent.
©2015 Third State, Inc. (P)2015 Macmillan Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Narrators Ari Fliakos and Juliana Francis Kelly serve up a meaty meal of sexual tension and regret as they portray former lovers and CIA agents in Steinhauer's latest contemporary espionage." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Darwin8u on 03-17-15

Pushing, incrementally, toward le Carré

First a disclosure. I'm a Steinhauer completist. I love Olen Steinhauer. For many reasons. First, he is one of the few, modern spy novelists that seems interested in writing quality espionage fiction, during a period when spy fiction is evolving as the business of espionage shifts. Second, Steinhauer is pushing, incrementally, towards the long shadow of le Carré. With some novels Steinhauer seems almost a breath away from le Carré. He isn't there yet, but he is close with 'All the Old Knives', and he is far closer than most of his peers.

Spy fiction if it is unserious deals with violence, mystery, sex and an almost pornographic, hyper-nationalism. Great spy fiction deals with history, memory, loss, ambiguity, mistakes, regret, and deception. Steinhauer has written what can best be explained as a locked room spy mystery. It is at heart an interrogation that is highlighted with various forms of flashback. It is the intersection of two lives, two loves, and one dark, shared past, finally unlocked in a Carmel-by-the-Sea restaurant.

This is a short book, but one that moves with a measured precision. This isn't a beach read. It is a book to read while you are waiting in a hospital to see if the lump is benign. A book to read while you wait for your spouse to return from a dangerous drive. It is a book that makes no easy heroes and leaves the final curtain cracked just a bit.

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34 of 36 people found this review helpful


By Reed on 03-23-15

Interesting Concept

I usually enjoy anything Steinhauer does and I assume this was a sort of concept novel. While it was an interesting way to build the story, one table, two people and dual-dueling narrators didn't get there for me.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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