The English Girl (Gabriel Allon) – Daniel Silva Review

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.

The English Girl - Daniel SilvaIn 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).

Highly recommended.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

International Political Spy Thrillers – Authors Who Deliver The Goods

Thirty-one years ago Robert Ludlum published the first of his original “Bourne Series.” The three international bestsellers (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) follow the trials and tribulations of Jason Bourne, whose real name is David Webb, a military man who became an assassin and who, through a mission gone awry, becomes amnesic and an assassin gone horribly wrong. It took a few decades before Hollywood decided to take Bourne to the silver screen, casting Matt Damon as Bourne/Webb, with the three films being released in 2002, 2004, and 2007, respectively.

In 1984, Tom Clancy introduced CIA operative Jack Ryan in a series that would eventually land the hero, who endlessly and tirelessly had traveled the globe to put things right, in the White House, as President Ryan. The protagonist appeared in a dozen or so novels and four of those have made the big screen. The first was The Hunt For Red October, in 1990, starring Sean Alec Baldwin as Ryan, then two with Harrison Ford as Ryan in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994). The Sum of All Fears (2002) starred Ben Affleck as Ryan.

Following years of writing successful thrillers Jack Higgins presented IRA activist Sean Dillon in Eye of the Storm (1992, the first of 17 or so adventures) who, eventually, becomes part of a quite secret, small and highly effective branch of undercover operatives whose boss reports directly to the Prime Minister of England. How one of the most-feared master terrorists becomes a member on the opposite side is intriguing and once Dillon is “recruited” the action and adventure only gets better with each succeeding book.

Transfer of Power, published in 1999 by Vince Flynn, introduced Mitch Rapp, a CIA counterterrorism operative who, through eleven novels, has traversed continent after continent (as well as working in the US), to bring a halt to terrorists bent on destroying cities, countries, even the world. Rapp flies directly into the bowels of hell, only to (somehow eventually) emerge successful, but not always in the best of health. His exploits are that of unknown legend.

In his 4th novel, The Kill Artist, published in 2000, Daniel Silva brings forth Gabriel Allon, an art restorer who is also a Mossad assassin, or vice versa. It is true, he really does restore art, very valuable old paintings to be exact. It is also very true, he is a deadly assassin. In the eleven books, to date, in which Allon has appeared, the agent has undertaken incredible assignments across the globe, with a returning cast of characters that add depth and outstanding interplay amongst and between them.

Though the movies are quite good, they cannot and do not capture all the detail contained in a novel. World-class storytellers Ludlum, Clancy, Higgins, Flynn and Silva have created larger-than-life, though all-too-human heroes, who get better with age, who find the ways and means to achieve their goals each and every time regardless of the odds, and who totally and completely satisfy the reader’s deep desire for entertainment and escapism at its absolute very best.

This post is not to slight other best-selling authors who have captivated millions of readers with international/political/spy thrillers, such as Len Deighton, John le Carre, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, to name a few, it is simply a viewpoint being shared concerning favorite authors of this particular blogger. After all, it is Certain Points of View™.

Over For Now.

Main Street One