THE CAIRO AFFAIR takes place in Egypt and Libya during 2011 with flashbacks to Serbia in 1991. It is set during the period when the regimes of dictators Hosni Mubarek, Egyptian President and military commander from 1981 to 2011, and Muammar Gaddafi, a Libyan revolutionary and the de facto ruler of Libya for 42 years, came to a violent end. The revolutionary events of the “Arab Spring” brought to conclusion various repressive Arab governments. The “Arab Spring” is widely believed to have been instigated by dissatisfaction with the rule of local governments, though some have speculated that wide gaps in income levels may have had a hand as well. Numerous factors led to the protests, including issues such as dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, political corruption, (demonstrated by Wikileaks’ diplomatic cables), extreme poverty, and a large percentage of educated, jobless and dissatisfied youth. The storyline of THE CAIRO AFFAIR, takes place around the above events…and the events are often current, which makes this novel more interesting.
THE NEAREST EXIT, Olen Steinhauer’s follow-up to THE TOURIST, brings back Milo Weaver, a covert operative for the CIA. Miles is one of the elite spies known as Tourists because, like visitors to a foreign land, “they appeared and disappeared.” Tourists are “a secret sect of American agents that required none of the comforts of normal humans. No steady identity, no home, no moral center beyond the virtue of work.” Milo claims that he would rather spend quality time at home with his wife and daughter than traipse around the world robbing, maiming, and killing people. As espionage enthusiasts know, however, it is not that easy to get out of the game.