One day in English Comp, the professor walked in and told our class to write a story solely in dialogue. It was a devilish assignment and put us all to the task. This novel reminds me of that day. The author started out to write an espionage mystery solely within the confines of a lunch between two persons. In a way he succeeds, but not without a little cheating by way of breaks for background and descriptions. Of course, we in our college class could not do that since such material had to come out of the mouths of our characters.
Henry Pelham and Celia (“Cee”) Harrison were CIA operatives (and lovers) in Vienna nine years before the fateful lunch. She left to thereafter become a married woman with two babies, living in Carmel-by-the-sea, CA, where the lunch takes place. Each has a secret agenda, Henry to place the blame on Cee for the disaster that took place when the hijackers murdered 120 passengers when their demands were not met; Celia’s is not divulged until the conclusion. Meanwhile they continue to chew words and food.
It is an interesting exercise, very much like my and my classmates’ efforts way back when. The dialogue is brisk, and the give and take of the two is sparkling. Certainly, the denouement is never telegraphed and the suspense builds. Especially because nothing appears as it seems and the reader continues to be surprised.