Daniel Silva is a reliable thriller writer. I can count on him to deliver suspense that increases in intensity as the narrative progresses, fiendish villains, memorable plots and Gabriel Allon with his unique point of view. I love reading Silva's books on my commute to and from work because they make the commutes fly by and take me away from my routine. The Associated Press review of this book called it "perfect." I wouldn't go quite that far, but it is an excellent example of what thrillers are and what they can achieve in terms of storytelling.
Gabriel Allon, however, has become something of a superhero. He sustains physical injuries that for mere mortals would mean weeks in a hospital, rehab, and/or permanent disability. Gabriel Allon just gets up and keeps walking. In this novel, however, he sustains an injury that debilitates him, and brings to the forefront that sometimes the worst trauma that humans experience have nothing to do with the physical. I admire Silva for finally making Allon human. I was getting tired of Allon the superman.
In this novel, Allon faces once again a Russian villain he's met before: Ivan Kharkov. In Moscow Rules their encounter and its aftermath set the stage for the plot of The Defector. The title refers to Grigori Bulganov whom Allon had helped to leave Russia. At the beginning of this story, Bulganov disappears. The British think he's returned to Russia voluntarily. But Allon knows Bulganov would not do that, and so he launches his own investigation into the Russian's disappearance and uncovers, of course, Kharkov's revenge. Ivan Kharkov believes he's the ultimate Teflon Russian gangster, especially because he has the Russian president in his pocket. But Allon doesn't see him that way, and he develops a plan with his trusted and talented team of Israeli operatives to take Kharkov down once and for all.
Silva writes fast-paced prose and spends little time on descriptive setting details. After 12 novels, he knows how to create the tension of successful thrillers, but there's not a lot of nuance. His plot lines are imaginative and this novel is no exception. Just when you think things are finally going in Allon's way, an obstacle or twist occurs that sends the story spinning again. He has developed Allon, Ari Shamron, Uzi Navot and Chiara well as characters without a lot of depth (expect Allon perhaps), but the villain and his coterie as well as secondary characters don't receive the same care. I was glad to see Chiara getting a larger role in this story and not only as Allon's love interest. I would really like to see Silva take a female character, like Sarah Bancroft for example, and give her her own series with Allon making only cameo appearances in it. I'm getting tired of Gabriel Allon the superman, the "legend." He's a human being, and if the events of this story are the beginning of returning him to mere human status, I applaud that.
I've been in Vladimirskaya Oblast and was disappointed in the way Silva described the forests. They are magical with a depth and personality all their own, unique in the world. But of course, it was just a setting for action in this story instead of giving it more depth. I did like that Silva hides something in the forest that has a profound effect on Russian politics and its social fabric.
I'd recommend this novel for readers of thrillers, especially those who aren't looking for a literary treatment with more in-depth character development and theme. This is very much a plot-driven story. Having said that, it's fun, entertaining, and a fast read.
With this I think I've read all the Allon novels. While good they fit a common story line. Allon is trying to live his own life. Someone,usually a female, gets in trouble and only Allon can save her and Isreal and the rest of the Western world. He brings in his usual crew, with Sharom looking over everybodys shoulder, and saves the day. Reminds me of Superman in my youth. (He was Jewish too!!)
I read Portrait of the Spy first before taking on The Defector and it was nice reading about some of the underlying story outlined in the latter book. Yet another great Gabriel Allon spy book with insight into the relationships between Gabriel, his wife, his team, and his international connections. I liked seeing how his view differ from book to book, the way it evolves was an interest point for me. The storyline is believable although some fantastic points were there that seemed to accentuate the status of certain characters. I enjoyed the Russian aspect of the story, the ruthlessness of the bad guy, and how the good guys make it in the end. Overall an enjoyable book, hard to put down at times, recommend if your up for a little espionage, spy novel.
Another excellent read. Silva is one of the top espionage writers on the current charts. You won't be disappointed.
Very entertaining and much better than "Moscow Rules"
An excellent book in the Gabriel Allon series.
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