When Daniel Silva’s first Gabriel Allon novel, The Kill Artist, appeared on the scene in 2000 I was hooked. I had read his three previous works as well, being a fan of the genre, but this Allon character was quite the intriguing combination – incredible art restorer coupled with highly trained and lethal Israeli Mossad spy/assassin.
In The English Girl the stage is set when Madeline (a quite English girl on her political rise) vanishes in Corsica. Enter Jonathan Lancaster, the British Prime Minister. His career is threatened when a DVD arrives after her abduction where she confesses, for all the world to hear, of her affair with the PM. The ramifications of the DVD becoming known are, of course, catastrophic which makes anyone’s involvement in this sensitive matter a potentially serious risk. After all, no country is free of a few little leaks now and then. Following consultation with one of his closest intelligence advisors, Deputy Director Graham Seymour, the PM agrees to engage the services of the effective and efficient Allon.
Though sort-of retired from spy work and trying to live a much quieter life in Israel with his beautiful (yet also deadly) wife, Chiara, while restoring classic works of art, Allon shares past involvement with Seymour who is able to convince the master spy to, once again, abort art and embrace a tremendous challenge.
One of the aspects of Silva’s work that I appreciate is the way in which he weaves real and realistic past, present and (possibly) future events into his stories. This effort is certainly no different. The reader is bound for a fast-paced ride that includes rich and powerful bad guys and their thugs, and following a trail from the French island of Corsica, to France, Denmark, Russia and England. Another trait is the method of character development, through their actions and dialogue, where, to me, Silva is truly able to make the good guys, especially the main characters, your friends and the bad guys your enemies. Allon and his trusted team methodically go after their target where things do not always meet their expectations, despite their best planning. The plot twists where something certainly seems one way but is, in fact, not that way at all are executed quite well, resulting in a real page turner. It is very hard not to continue reading when one chapter comes to a close.
The one predictable outcome of tales involving recurring characters (i.e., Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt, etc.) is that you know, one way or another, the hero will come out on top. To me, the mark of a great storyteller is how that is accomplished. The story must hold your attention and interest and keep you guessing how the planned outcome is achieved. Silva does this extremely well. With Allon you don’t know, until you are into the story and witness the various and sundry bumps and bruises, serious injuries and near-death experiences, exactly how he will accomplish his goal. And, even then, … That is the treat.
If you enjoy having current world events and scenarios weaved into the plot line, traversing the globe on a quest for bad guys, the cloak and dagger world of espionage and intelligence, then you should very much enjoy Daniel Silva’s The English Girl” as well as all earlier Gabriel Allon books. Silva is one of the few authors where I own both hardcover books (all) and Kindle editions (most).
Over For Now.
Main Street One