The New York Times bestseller

February, 2011: Tunisia and Egypt have tossed their leaders into the streets. Civil war has erupted in Libya. 

In Budapest, 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 stationed in Cairo, he is shot in the head and killed.

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.

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.

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.

As these players converge in Cairo, The Cairo Affair slowly unveils 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.


[An] elaborate, sophisticated spy tale, a long, twisty road full of cleverly placed potholes and unexpected turns. . . . Mr. Steinhauer draws his spies as flesh-and-blood characters in whom his readers invest both attention and emotion. . . . fascinating. - Janet Maslin at The New York Times

"Some have said that Olen Steinhauer is the natural heir to John le Carré. The emotion and intrigue of The Cairo Affair--a perfect stand-alone...--will further that reputation." - Sara Nelson in The Saturday Evening Post

. . . among the best contemporary-espionage writers . . . Steinhauer’s book has a crackerjack plot and plenty of the double-crosses, shadowy spies and expert tradecraft you’d expect. . . . he’s damned good. - Adam Woog in The Seattle Times

"The Cairo Affair contains enough credible spy craft, dead bodies, lies and deceptions to cloud almost every page, plus incisive observations of the politics and perils of international espionage." - Don Oldenburg at USA Today

...timely and relevant.... 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. - Neal Thompson at

"Steinhauer, like le Carré, knows that an enduring spy story doesn’t depend on the brilliance of its spies, but on the flaws of those spies as human beings." - Court Haslett at

Olen Steinhauer is the espionage "Master of Complications." . . .The Cairo Affair is an elegant, elaborate clockwork of mystery and deception that should draw readers in and keep them on tenderhooks as they try to figure out what is really making it all tick. . . . Steinhauer seduces . . . One marvels at the intricacy of [the book's] imagination and the elegance of its maker's craftsmanship. - Publishers' Weekly

One of the two best espionage novelists working today, Steinhauer follows his acclaimed Milo Weaver trilogy with a stunning stand-alone that is as emotionally rich as it is layered with intrigue. . . . It has become de rigeur to compare Steinhauer to le Carré, but it’s nearly time to pass the torch: for the next generation, it’s Steinhauer who will become the standard by which others are measured. - Booklist (Starred Review)

"Readers yearning for a fiendishly complex plot, penetrating characterizations, and a new warrior in the ancient struggle between anomie and truth will welcome Sophie and her brash courage." - Library Journal