Turns out Olen Steinhauer was born in Baltimore. Booksellers and libraries love to show off our hometown writers, or even people who just happened to be born here. (Everyone leaves if they can, but Steinhauer didn't even stay long enough to grow up here.)
This one was slightly disappointing because I am rather desperate to find someone to fill the modern role of all the great Cold War espionage writers I love. It mostly takes place in the present at a table over dinner, with a bunch of flashbacks, and it's ABC espionage. I really wish it had been "cerebral." I'm still trying to figure out why that word is used in the blurb. Maybe they meant "we hear things people think?"
We get interior and exterior and we see the difference from two characters who were once lovers and spies (independently. They weren't lovers because they were spies.) It started slow, heated up for a minute, then got distant again. The worst part is that it felt distant at the point when I should have been affected. I didn't hate it. I just didn't care enough.
I'll try one more of his books before giving up completely.