Book Review of The English Spy

This is my first Daniel Silva Novel. It is apparently the 11th or 12th novel in the Gabriel Allon series, an Israeli intelligence operative/assasin).
The book begins with an explosion aboard a charter yacht in the Caribbean which kills a divorced English princess(read: Princess Di). The perp, Eamon Quinn, a master bomb maker formerly of the IRA, now a chef on the yacht, escapes in a Zodiac before the timer hits zero. Whodunit? MI-5 and MI-6 get involved tracking down Mr Quinn. Enter Christopher Keller, ex British commando who has been employed as a hit man by a mobster on Corsica but now gets drafted by British intelligence and Gabriel Allon, an Israeli assassin. The chase is on in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and a variety of European venues. Enter a few Russian women, one a spy, one a mistress of the PM. Enter a few Russians who ordered the hit and who now want to snuff out Gabriel Allon. Boom! goes the bomb vaporizing some innocent women and children in London and almost Mr Allon who hides out in a safe house recovering from his injuries. It seems the bombmaker, Mr Quinn has now made his second attempt on Gabriel Allon, the first being an attempt which nailed Mr Allon’s family killing his son and brain damaging his wife. So now it’s revenge time. We find out that Mr Quinn was working for a higher up in Russia ,(Read: V. Putin). More chasing around Europe ensues until the Gunfight at the OK Corral back on the Aulde Sod . But Quinn slips out of the noose and we are treated to a tender interlude back in good ole Tel Aviv where Gabriel’s wife is great with child(twins). Allon is on paternity leave from taking over as head of Israeli Intelligence in Tel Aviv. You know Tel Aviv, right? It’s the place where Silva informs us “the missles rain down.,” on numerous occasions. The other British assassin, Chris Keller stays on the job chasing Mr Quinn all over the world finally plugging him in Argentina.

So how do I really feel about the book you ask? It’s acceptable Airport kiosk thriller trash by “#1 NY Times best selling Author Daniel Silva!” as the dust jacket screams.
Despite the predictable formulaic format the book does succeed on a few levels. It flows well with decent dialog and lots of action scenes including some nice torture if that is what rings your bell. The women characters come across as beautiful interesting women spies. Character development is marginal . The plot structure uses real world figures and current events as a substitute for coming up with something original. The whole thing is of course utterly implausible. Silva might as well be on permanent retainer to write propaganda action novels for British and Israeli Intelligence which pretty much describes the book.
This is a vapid, vacuous good guy/bad guy book with only British and Israeli action figures written for the type of readership who view the world through binary lenses. The good guys live in Merrie Old England and the Holy Land. The bad guys live in Ireland, Russia, Iran and the Middle East.
The bad thing is that Silva beats the poor reader over the head promoting his Zionist views clothed in a third rate thriller which had to have taken him at least two weekends to write. The good thing is that Daniel Silva is no longer working as a foreign correspondent reporting from the Middle East. I do believe that he could be a good writer in the thriller genre if he could spend a little more time on his craft, find a good editor, develop some original plot lines and maybe try to see the world in a more nuanced light. In the meanwhile if you want to read authors who have mastered the genre ,you need to look at Fredrick Forsyth. Ken Follett and Robert Ludlum and CJ Box. This was my first Silva novel as I stated at the outset. It will be my last.

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About cal48koho

I was born in Montana and raised in a dozen Air Force SAC bases. I attended Holy Cross,West Point and UNC in Chapel Hill(MD"71). Army doc in the last years of the Viet Nam fiasco. My wife and I live in a log cabin I built in Jackson Hole in 1975 when we aren't on our Cal 48 yawl. I've done a dozen different jobs and retired from ER and Anesthesia in 2004. I've written magazine articles and am writing a Kunstleresque novel about life in a past Peak Oil world. We are living in a beautiful alpine setting where we hike and ski when we're not thinking about economics and spreading the implications of PO to anyone who will listen.
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