Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Vienna Assignment by Olen Steinhauer, 2005

Last evening, I waited in an autorickshaw queue for about half an hour and while I was still twenty heads away from the starting point, I stepped out of the line and caught a bus home. In-between, I ventured out to my regular bookstore and bought myself a secondhand book and an unhealthy snack. In Bombay, you do crazy things like that. 

© HarperCollins
In the bus, all the seats were occupied, including those reserved for women and senior citizens, so I stood behind the driver and skimmed through my new book—my sixth purchase in the past six months.

The Vienna Assignment, the UK title of 36 Yalta Boulevard by American espionage writer Olen Steinhauer, pulls you right in with the tagline, “To be wrongly accused of murder once is a misfortune. Twice — and it’s a conspiracy.”

The blurb on Book Three of the Yalta Boulevard Sequence convinced me that I’d made a good choice, for it says — “It is the height of the Cold War. When a defector mysteriously returns to the Eastern European village of his birth, it's a chance for disgraced detective Brano Sev to redeem himself. Being framed for a murder should just be part of his cover story. Or is it? Exiled suddenly to Vienna, treacherous city of spies, Sev finds himself caught up in a cat-and-mouse game where survival is the only prize. But in a world where no good deed goes unpunished, loyalty can be the biggest crime of all…”

© HarperCollins
Just my kind of book.

Steinhauer, 44, has also written the bestseller The Tourist, the Milo Weaver Trilogy, and the standalone novel The Cairo Affair. His next release, due 2015, is All the Old Knives which is about terrorism and revenge and is set in California and Vienna.

Rob Kitchin, professor and author, has reviewed the novel on his blog The View from the Blue House.


Col, my good blog friend, reviewed Steinhauer's On the Lisbon Disaster and The Cairo Affair over at his blog Col's Criminal Library. Our mutual blog friend, Tracy, who reviews mystery and espionage books among other fiction at Bitter Tea and Mystery, also reviewed The Cairo Affair and The Tourist

Have you read anything by Olen Steinhauer?

24 comments:

  1. I love that tag line. Having torrential rain here. Queues for autos, buses cars and traffic jams everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mystica, our daily lives can't be very different though I'm told Colombo is far better than Bombay in terms of infrastructure and traffic sense. I find that easy to believe.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Sarah, you won't love it so much if you have to travel in it every day; worse still, wait for the auto riders to say yes to you. They are a law unto themselves. The three-wheeled autos have only a canvas roof and are open on both sides. They are also easier to maneuver in traffic than big cars.

      The novel does sound good. I hope to read it soon.

      Delete
  3. I believe this is the first time I've heard the name Olen Steinhauer, Prashant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, me too. I happened to come across his book and picked it up after I read the back of the book.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Patti, that would mean Olen Steinhauer is a good writer.

      Delete
  5. Just read something short by him last month and his THE CAIRO AFFAIR earlier this year and a couple of his earlier ones a few years ago. You're in for a treat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, my sincere apologies. I should have remembered that you'd read and reviewed a couple of Olen Steinhauer's novels, one as recently as on October 1. What is worse, I even commented on your reviews. Rob's review of the book turned up while I was reading up on the writer. While I can recall every book I have read, the truth is I seldom remember if I, myself, have reviewed it. I have to keep refering to my blog log. Belated as this is, I'm delighted to draw attention to both your reviews.

      And I look forward to treating myself to THE VIENNA ASSIGNMENT.

      Delete
    2. Hey, no apologies necessary, Prashant ;-)

      Delete
    3. Col, no problem, that's just how I felt about it.

      Delete
  6. I'm afraid this is a new author for me (or ratherm, an untried one) - I donlt read a lot fo contemporary thrillers but sounds worth pursuing - thanks Prashant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sergio, I, too, think it's worth reading this and Steinhauer's other novels. I usually think hard before I pick up an unknown author but I'd no hesitation buying this book.

      Delete
  7. Olen Steinhauer sounds like an intriguing writer. I'll look for these books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. George, the espionage and the Cold War element is what prompted me to buy the book. I'll be reading THE VIENNA ASSIGNMENT as well as the other novels by Olen Steinhauer.

      Delete
  8. I love, love, love the series of books that includes The Vienna Assignment. I don't even remember it specifically, I just loved every one of them. I also read The Tourist and The Next Exit from the Milo Weaver trilogy but haven't read the last book in that series yet. He is one of my favorite current writers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy, that's really good to hear. You are way ahead on this author and your positive thoughts on his books make them all the more appealing to me. Have you reviewed any on your blog?

      Delete
    2. I reviewed The Tourist and Next Exit. Must have read all of that five book series that includes Vienna Assignment before blogging. Oh, I reviewed The Cairo Affair also. I really liked everything I read by him.

      Delete
    3. Tracy, as with Col, I forgot you'd reviewed Olen Steinhauer's books too. I reread your reviews of THE CAIRO AFFAIR and THE TOURIST and found I'd commented as well. It was silly of me to ask you if you'd reviewed them.

      Delete
    4. Not at all, Prashant. We all read tons of posts and I forget a lot of what I have read. Sergio just reviewed a Helen Nielsen book and I forgot completely that I had read reviews of her books at John's Pretty Sinister Books and Curt's The Passing Tramp. I was appalled but it happens.

      Delete
    5. Tracy, it happens all the time to me. Fortunately, I rarely read and review the same books that my blog friends do. You and Col are far ahead when it comes to reading and reviewing late 21st century and modern fiction. I'm just starting out now.

      Delete
  9. I have recently discovered this author thanks to TracyK and Col: I'll look forward to hearing about this one.

    ReplyDelete