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Intelligence in Public Media

All the Old Knives

Olen Steinhauer (Minotaur Books, 2015), 304 pp.

Reviewed by John Breen

Espionage fiction can entertain on many levels. Readers might enjoy the genre for the action, the intrigue, or the tension induced by a character who is placed in a life-threatening situation in an exotic, international location. Others prefer a more complex protagonist—the officer forced to maneuver the minefield of ethically or morally challenged decisionmaking that occurs every day in the world of intelligence operations, both fiction and nonfiction. While the former preference may be satisfied by the likes of Ian Fleming and more recently Jason Matthews with his Red Sparrow, for the latter, think Le Carre’ and perhaps now, Steinhauer.

In All the Old Knives, Olen Steinhauer attempts to satisfy both customers. Steinhauer’s Henry Pelham is no George Smiley, but they both allow their respective creators to explore something deeper about the human condition, using the spy thriller as the vehicle.

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Posted: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2016 12:09 PM