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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.
Customer ReviewsMost 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.
38 of 40 people found this review helpful
By P1967 on 05-30-15
Dining Out is Not a Plot
All the Old Knives takes place largely over a dinner with the two main characters reviewing a horrible incident they shared. Each provides his or her version, and Stenhauer eventually ties the two viewpoints together.
The plot is not believable, nor is the motive for the key event in the book. When it ended, abruptly, I laughed out loud at the absurdity of the book.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful