The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

This a fast-moving thriller with an intricate plot about espionage, the FBI and political games as played out in the 90’s among foreign diplomats for the governments of Libya, Egypt, and the USA. The story is centered around Sophia Kohl the wife of Emmett Kohl, a mid-level diplomat at the American embassy in Hungary. Her husband is shot dead by an unknown gunman right after she confesses to him about having an affair. The story then follows as Sophia goes awol with a determination to find out who killed her husband and why. Her unauthorized and secretive quest set in motion an inquisition that threatens to expose years of deceit, lies, murders and cover ups.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cairo Affair. This book starts off at a breakneck speed, and builds up intensity as the story progresses. It is a complicated and layered plot which makes it even more exciting!

This is one of those books you can’t put down because of the eye-opening discoveries that you make as you get deeper into the story. There are themes of evil schemes, betrayals, rivalries, backstabbing and deceptions all interwoven in this intricate plot.

Set in North Africa, from Hungary to Libya, Yugoslavia to Egypt, this story offers great insights into new places, people and cultures. I especially love stories that take you through foreign lands where you can learn a thing or two – this book does just that.
Pick up this book – It’s well worth your time!
Similar books – The Hidden Man by Charles Cumming, A Cold War by Amelia Levene, and The English Girl by Daniel Silva –

About The Author

Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia, and has since lived in Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and New York. Outside the US, he’s lived in Croatia (when it was called Yugoslavia), the Czech Republic and Italy…Read more from Amazon

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Nightwatcher

Author: Wilson, Charles
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery
Published: 1990
Setting: Mississippi

This novel is about the brutal rape and murder of Judith Salter a nurse at the state hospital for the mentally insane. Featuring – three escaped psychiatric inmates, suspicious police officers and a guilt stricken dad turned “detective”. Brandon Richards, the victim’s dad abandons his life and career in other to help bring justice to Judith’s killing. Is it a coincidence that these three inmates got out the same night of this tragic incidence? Evidence found on the murder scene has detectives suspecting either or all of the escaped inmates – or could there have been someone else? Judith’s ex husband, a person of questionable character becomes a suspect. Also “someone in the police force” could be killer. While grieving his daughter’s death, Richards is determined to leave no stone unturned investigating his daughter’s murder. Meanwhile, an inmate claims he might have witnessed the killing. How believable is an assertion made by a mentally ill patient?

What prompted me to read this book in the first place was the recommendation on the cover of the book given by John Grisham – an author I’m truly fond of. “Splendid! A lean tight compelling story that was over much too fast. I wanted more”. Another person described the book as “dark, scary, and truly menacing”. Regarding the last statement, I don’t find Nightwatcher that terrifying, neither does it read as spooky as the cover picture depicts.

It is rare that you find a complex plot presented in such a simple format. This is a very quick read. The author did not try to stretch the story with unnecessary details and rigmarole like you find in most mystery novels. Richard’s character very systematically obtains valuable tips and information that helps move the story rapidly. The author methodically builds up a compelling tempo while all the time leaving you guessing who could have committed this horrid act. The excitement lies in the process of walking the reader through layers of unveiling lies, deceptions, conspiracies, and cover ups by the people who were close to the victim. Gradually, shocking revelations are made of the victim’s past life which further complicates the plot. At this point, suspicions about who committed this crime becomes an open-ended question.

It is thrilling to watch as the story culminates in a surprise revelation of the murderer. This is a fun mystery/thriller read – great for the weekend. Fast readers could finish this book within a day.

If you’ve read this book, please let me know what you think…

Tell No One

Author: Coben, Harlan
Pages: 384
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2009
Setting: New York City

This is my first introduction to Harlan Coben
books and certainly not going to be the last.
He is best known for his award-winning Myron Bolitar series.
So Tell No One is one of his stand alone novels.

David Beck and his wife are on their yearly vacation for their wedding anniversary at the Beck family beach house. While out swimming under the moonlight, suddenly Beck feels someone hit him on the back of the head with a baseball bat. He is collapsing as he hears his wife screaming for him. When he comes to, he learns of his wife’s kidnap and tragic death.

Eight years later, Beck has become a respectable Physician in New York City where he works with under privileged children. Beck never got over the death of his wife. Closer to his next anniversary, he receives an intriguing email message with a coded phrase known only to him and his wife. His head is spinning – Is someone playing games with him? Could his wife still be alive? Suspense begins to mount…

Determined to find out the truth about what happened eight years ago, Beck starts his own investigations not knowing whom to trust anymore because the message said “Tell No One” and “They Are Watching”. Beck discovers he is up against a powerful and dangerous billionaire, and it doesn’t help him either to learn he’s being investigated by the CIA as the number one suspect in the death of his wife. But David Beck is not holding back. He is determined to unravel this mystery and he will go to any length to uncover the truth about what happened to his wife.

In Tell No One, Coben has masterfully spun a believable layered story with a lot of twists and turns. Towards the end, as the reader is still getting over some unexpected developments, the author throws in an exciting surprise. This mystery story is very suspenseful and thrilling. It will appeal to anyone who loves fast paced, edge on your seat novels.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, now I’m starting a list of similar books I’d like to read. Do you have any suggestions?

Vanished by Robards, Karen
A Prisoner of Birth
by Archer, Jeffery
The Affair by Child, Lee
Smash Cut by Brown, Sandra
Backfire-FBI Thriller by Coulter, Catherine
I’ll Walk Alone by Clark, Mary Higgins
I’ll Look Again by Scottoline, Lisa
Quinn by Johansen, Iris

Poor Little Bitch Girl

Jackie Collins was able to gain some of her readers back with this “show stopper “ of a book – as they term it. Most of her readers compare it to her other titles – “Lucky” and “Chances”.

Personally, I do not feel Poor Little Bitch Girl is as racy and as steamy as her very first ones – “Hollywood Wives” (which got turned into a t.v. series) and “Hollywood Divorces”.

Poor Little Bitch Girl moves back and forth between L.A. and New York. Told from the points of view of three contemporary women in their twenties with occasional input from Collins’ old character – Bobby Santagelo. Collins uses the three female characters – Denver, Carolyn and Annabelle who were friends from high school to portray various female roles in a modern world.

As expected with Jackie Collins’ novels, this story deals with romance, sex, drugs amidst the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood life.

Fast paced, charming, sensational, intriguing, and suspenseful.

If you are familiar with Collins’ novels – Does this cut it for you?

More Info-

Author-Jackie Collins
Title – Poor Little Bitch Girl
Genre: Romance
Publication: 209
Number of Pages: 448
Geographical Setting: Hollywood, New York

Blind Faith

Author: Joe Mc Ginnis
Title:
Blind Faith
Genre: True Crime
Publication:
1989
Number of Pages: 464
Geographical Setting: New Jersey

This is a true crime story and a gripping tale – the kind you keep telling yourself “no, no,” even while knowing indeed that a cruel and unjustifiable criminal act has occurred or about to happen.

Rob Marshall a New Jersey socialite on a night out with his beautiful wife gets hit in the head and sustains an injury. On waking up, he discovers his wife has been shot dead in the front of the car leaving behind their three teenage sons to mourn her.

An investigation ensues, the most important thing for the boys is justice for their mom. But as the facts gradually unravel, Rob Marshall’s three teenage sons soon begin to question their faith in their dad’s honesty. Could their own dad, a well-respected member of the society and a man they all looked up to have a hand in their mom’s death?
This is a page turner and would keep you wanting to know what actually happened.

I got a lot of goose bumps and knots in the stomach while reading this story – Have you read anything like this before ?

Boy Meets Girl

Author:Cabot, Meg
Title: Boy Meets Girl
Genre: Chick Lit
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 387
Geographical Setting: New York City
Time Period: Present day

The story is told from a series of emails, instant messages, journal entries, to do lists exchanged between characters in the story. Kate MacKenzie the main character recently moved out from her long time boyfriend Dale who would not commit to marriage. She is taken in by her newly married best friend and husband – Jen and Craig Sadler. The story progresses, with the ex boy friend desperately wanting her back and subsequently creating lot of scene with her refusal.
As the Personnel Representative – Human Resources Department of The New York Journal, Kate is ordered by her (unpopular) boss Amy but known as – T.O.D. (Tyrannical Office Despot), to fire the baker for refusing to serve a senior officer a piece of pie. Unfortunately, the fired employee sues the the New York Journal for wrongful termination, no – “breach of contract”.
Now, Kate is named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit. The start of this legal arbitration sets wheels of events rolling, leading to a new romantic venture for Kate, conspiracies, and some love trysts.

There are multiple plot threads going on at the same time involving family issues, friendship, and trust which intertwines and eventually connects back to the main story. An interesting angle is the plot of the cute defense lawyer who Kate is beginning to fall in love with and who happens to be Kate’s boss’ fiancé’s brother. This creates additional level of complexities making the book so much harder to put down – you are compelled to follow the unraveling of this situation.
This is a really heartwarming story, realistic plot with laugh out loud rhetorics. Anyone who loves romance without the “mushy” part of it would enjoy this.

Fiction Read – a-likes:

Getting to the Good Partby Files, Lolita
Not Another Bad Date by Gibson, Rachel
Strange Bedpersons by Crusie, Jennifer

Non-Fiction read a-likes:

Heart of the City : nine stories of love and serendipity on the streets of New York by Ariel Sabar
Finding Love Again: 6 simple steps to a new and happy relationship by Orbuch, Terri
Date or Soul Mate?: How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Les by Neil Warren