I commenced work on this novel before the Islamic terrorist group known as ISIS carried out a wave of shootings and bombings in Paris and Brussels that left more than 160 people dead. After briefly considering setting aside the typescript, I chose to complete it as originally conceived, as though the tragic events had not yet occurred in the imaginary world where my characters live and work. The similarities between the real and fictitious attacks, including the links to the Brussels district of Molenbeek, are entirely coincidental. I take no pride in my prescience. I only wish that the murderous, millenarian terrorism of the Islamic State lived solely on the pages of this story.
How crazy is that? But not only did I learn a bunch about ISIS, I also realized - again - that Silva really writes well. I head shook(?), smiled, chuckled, frowned, "uh uh"ed, and teared up (of course). And, as usual, I asked myself the same question I ask each time: "Why did I wait so long to read the latest Allon adventure?" I really do love his stuff. Take a look at this:
Intelligence services from different nations do not cooperate because they enjoy it. They do so because, like divorced parents of small children, they sometimes find it necessary to work together for the greater good. Old rivalries do not vanish overnight. They slumber just beneath the surface, like the wounds of infidelities, forgotten anniversaries, and unmet emotional needs.
What else did I learn from The Black Widow?
1. The role of women in ISIS
2. The requirements to be accepted into ISIS (this will surprise you)
3. The history of Saladin from the 12th century
I don't know if it makes much sense to start a series on book 16. But you probably can. Silva actually spends a couple of pages explaining who Gabriel Allon is along with his background. It's just such a good series.
So are these 16 books Silva's only novels? Nope. He wrote 3 others before he started the Allon series. In fact, one of them, The Unlikely Spy, is in Volume I of my Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader (you looking for some books to read? - check my post from 2/19/11) and sits on my Sunday morning rec table. This book is so cool. And in case you haven't figured it out, I'm a very big Silva fan. P.S. This is a 3.75/4.
P.S. Please do me a favor. IF you read Josh's book, Little Boy Soup, would you write a review on Amazon? I know it's a pain, but it would be a big help to have some additional reviews posted. Thanks.