Title: My Dinner With A Spy
Rating: 2 Stars
I’d previously read the Milo Weaver trilogy. I especially liked the first one, The Tourist, which was an unexpected jolt of energy. The trilogy itself was a labyrinth of a plot, with crosses, double-crosses and misdirection all throughout.
This is a much quieter work. Several years ago, an airplane was hijacked in Austria. Two spies, Henry and Celia, also romantically involved, were also in Austria and watched it unfold. The hijacking ends tragically, with all passengers dead.
Years later, Henry has been assigned the action to determine if the CIA station in Vienna somehow aided the hijackers. After a long investigation, he comes to the US to visit Celia, who quit the CIA immediately after the incident and is now living a quiet, domestic life.
The novel is the two of them sharing a dinner, discussing the events surrounding the hijacking, suspicious of each other actions and motives, both in the past and now at the dinner.
The book aspires to a psychological cat and mouse game like the old movie Deathtrap, based upon the Lumet play, where the two characters parry each other in an ever more deadly struggle.
I just found the two characters to be bland. Both Henry and Celia just seemed to be stock spy characters with not particularly interesting motivations or background. As they were trying to out-maneuver each other, I just really didn’t care who would emerge victorious.
The twists and turns of the plot were strongly telegraphed, so there was no shocking denouement.
Perhaps Steinhauer is simply better suited to plot driven books. This one, although certainly not painful to read, is almost imminently forgettable.