In the interest of reading so many books written by local authors, I have given up a lot of series. I was not bored or done with them. I simply couldn't get them in, even with reading 65-70 books a year. Why do I tell you this? Because I have not/do not/will not stop reading Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. I love these books. So how was #16, the English Spy? Well, the answer is a little more complicated than it should be. In fact, it wasn’t until page 31 that Gabriel made his 1st appearance. I made another note that on page 78 I was a little bit bored. And I made a 3rd note on page 92 that there were no new interesting characters. It wasn’t until probably page 125 that the book took off. And then it really took off. Pages 125-475 (the end of the book) flew by. That part of the book was vintage Silva. Normally I give Silva a 3.5. This one only gets a 3.25 because of the slow start. Still, not a bad rating.
What’s this book about? It doesn’t matter. It’s simply another episode in the series. But I can tell you a few things that I liked:
- I liked that I have an emotional connection with Gabriel, Chiara (his wife), Ari Shamron (his long-time mentor), and Eli Lavon (the Nazi hunter, super spy). There are others, but these are the ones that make me smile.
- I liked that Silva will usually take a couple of pages in every book (236-237 in this one) and summarize Gabriel’s exploits. And there are many.
- I liked that all of Silva’s books deal with current topics in the news. In this one, there’s the whole issue of Iran’s nuclear capacity. Of course we all know that on July 15 of this year, the U.S. reached an accord with Iran regarding the latter’s nuclear capabilities. (A couple of books ago, Silva dealt with the assassinations of journalists in Russia. That was actually happening.)
Silva makes a couple of references that hit home. One is that Gabriel’s alarm clock is set 10 minutes fast. Mine too! And in an exchange between Gabriel and Chiara, Chiara says: “Why must you always be so fatalistic?” And Gabriel responds: “It prevents me from being disappointed later.” This is part of my personal mantra - lower your expectations. If your expectations are realistic, then you’re less likely to suffer disappointment. I definitely agree with Gabriel on that one.
So maybe The English Spy is not one of his best books in the series. It’s still a whole bunch better than most everybody else’s books. If you’re a fan of the series, I know you’ll like it. If you haven’t started the series, you might want to try book #1 (The Kill Artist).
NOTE: One of my favorite Silva books is one that was written before he started the Allon series. It’s called The Unlikely Spy. The plot? Nazi Germany integrates spies into England in the early- to mid-30s in anticipation of a war. The whole book centers on the English uprooting these spies. I really liked this book.