Sunday 3 May 2015

All The Old Knives

Finished May 1
All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer, read by Ari Fliakos and Juliana Francis Kelly

This spy novel all takes place within a few hours, but with flashbacks to the events surrounding a horrific terrorist incident in Vienna six years earlier that resulted in a lot of deaths. The main characters are all CIA operatives. The two speakers here are Henry Pelham, a field agent at the time of the incident and now in the office, still in Vienna, and Celia Harrison, in the office at the time and now married with children, out of the service.
Henry is following up on internal information that says there was an internal leak in the CIA that contributed to the failure of the authorities to prevent the deaths six years ago. He has already interviewed a couple of others that were in the office at the time, but have since moved on. He insisted on interviewing Celia himself. Henry and Celia were lovers at the time of the incident, and Henry is still in love with Celia, never reconciling himself to her sudden ending of the relationship and quick marriage to a man years older than her.
Celia left the service on her marriage, moved with her new husband to Carmel-by-the-Sea in California and has two young children. Henry is sure that Celia is hiding something, and is determined to find out whether she is protecting someone else or herself. Celia is struggling with her own feelings around the incident, what she did, and what she didn't do.
This is a story of love, of betrayal, of that old story of those who believe that the end justifies the means. The ending is shocking, and sad. A spy novel with a very different ambience.


  1. It is a very unusual spy novel, with such a tight primary timeline. The audio I listened to had the two readers for Henry and Celia, which I liked too.