Author(s): Olen Steinhauer
Celia used to lie for a living. Henry still does. Can they ever trust each other? Six years ago, Henry and Celia were lovers and colleagues, working for the CIA station in Vienna, until terrorists hijacked a plane at the airport. A rescue attempt, staged from the inside, went terribly wrong. Everyone on board was killed. That night has continued to haunt all of those involved; for Henry and Celia, it brought to an end their relationship. Celia decided she'd had enough; she left the agency, married and had children, and is now living an ordinary life in the Californian suburbs. Henry is still a CIA analyst, and has travelled to the US 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 question: had their agent been compromised, and how? And each of them also wonders what role their lunch companion might have played in the way things unfolded...
Olen Steinhauer's most intense, most thrilling and most unsettling novel to date - from the New York Times bestselling author deemed by many to be John le Carre's heir apparent.
This terrific standalone thriller ... Steinhauer is a very fine writer and an excellent observer of human nature Publisher's Weekly (starred review) Compelling ... Delivers intrigue, suspense, and a heart-stopping finale ... You'll devour it in one night Booklist (starred review) Masterfully plotted ... Even readers well-versed in espionage fiction will be pleasantly surprised by Steinhauer's plot twists and double backs Kirkus (Starred Review) This genre-bending spy novel takes Hitchcockian suspense to new heights Library Journal (starred review) This sneaky little gem ... Steinhauer sustains the difficult balancing act of melding a heart-racing espionage plot with credible dinner table conversation. He never violates the book's basic premise, not even when his characters begin to have the darkest suspicions about each other ... Steinhauer specializes in tough showdowns. And the more innocently they begin, the more devastatingly they end New York Times A splendid tour de force. While some spy novels are globe-trotting and action-packed, this one centers on a single meal - but with just as hearty a helping of suspense ... The mystery here works with the dexterity and precision of Agatha Christie's best - the answer to whodunit and whydunit being both surprising and ultimately inevitable because the clues are in plain sight... But the puzzle is just one aspect of a story that's freighted with considerable emotional and moral weight. If the ending is crisp with irony (like one of those old Spy vs. Spy cartoons from Mad magazine, but elevated to elegant purity), it's also hauntingly ambiguous, both morally and dramatically Washington Post All the Old Knives has a disarmingly quiet start, but good spy novels are like good spies: they draw you in, earn your trust, and then grab hold with both hands. In Vienna during the mid-2000s Henry and Celia were intelligence agents and lovers who witnessed a terrorist hijacking as it took a shocking turn. Five years later, the two meet over dinner at a restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea where Celia now lives as a civilian, to recall the events of the past. As the remembrances overlap with the present moment, tension mounts and questions of who did what to whom, and why, become increasingly urgent. By the last 100 pages Steinhauer's hook is firmly embedded and it's hard not to race to the finish. And the ending? I can sum it up in one word - brilliant Amazon ('Best Book of the Month') There are few writers alive who can transform the mundane with such possibility ... All The Old Knives remains coiled and alive until the very last page ... The plot of Steinhauer's novel retains a reader's attention until its final images. The night has closed in, danger has asserted itself in warm, placid Carmel. The meal is finished. Who will pay? New York Times Book Review It would be a high crime to give away ... the deliciously devious plot, this brew packs a [potent] punch ... Steinhauer expertly navigates ... with an aplomb reminiscent of the best of Deighton and John Le Carre. Like those masters of the genre, Steinhauer manages to make the reader care desperately for his characters even as the realities of the spy game mock their every hope of happiness ... In All the Old Knives [Steinhauer's] upped the ante in ways that enrich the genre while providing a white-knuckle ride Los Angeles Times
Olen Steinhauer is the New York Times bestselling author of nine previous novels, most recently The Cairo Affair. He lives with his family in New York and Budapest.