PORTRAIT OF A SPY by Daniel Silva

Book Quote:

“Homeland security is a myth…. It’s a bedtime story we tell our people to make them feel safe at night. Despite all our best efforts and all our billions spent, the United States is largely indefensible.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky В (JUL 25, 2011)

As Daniel Silva’s Portrait of a Spy opens, art restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara, are living quietly in a cottage by the sea. Silva sets the stage with a series of events that are eerily familiar: Countries all over the world are “teetering on the brink of fiscal and monetary disaster;” Europe is having difficulty absorbing “an endless tide of Muslim immigrants;” and Bin Laden is dead, but others are scrambling to take his place. Government leaders in America and on the Continent are desperate to identify and thwart the new masterminds of terror.

All of this should not be Gabriel Allon’s problem, since he is no longer an agent of Israeli intelligence. However, Gabriel happens to be in London when he learns that two suicide bombers have struck, one in Paris and the other in Copenhagen. Later, Gabriel is strolling through Covent Garden when he spots a man who arouses his suspicions. Should he alert the police or take out this individual on his own? A series of unexpected events ensue that will bring Gabriel’s brief retirement to an abrupt end. He becomes a key player in a complex plot–involving high finance, a valuable painting, and a beautiful heiress–to destroy the new Bin Laden and his bloodthirsty cohorts. Allon will clash not just with his natural enemies but also with certain American politicians and their subordinates whose short-sighted and self-serving attitudes he finds repugnant.

Portrait of a Spy is an intricate, powerful, well-researched, and engrossing tale of deception, betrayal, and self-sacrifice. The most memorable character is thirty-three year old Nadia al-Bakari, a savvy businesswoman who is highly intelligent, secretive, and one of the richest women in the world. Her late father was a known supporter of terror networks. Will she follow in his footsteps or choose a different path? Silva brings back many of Allon’s comrades, including the amusing Julian Isherwood, an aging but still sharp-tongued Ari Shamron, and art curator/CIA operative, Sarah Bancroft.

The author choreographs his story perfectly and manages an extremely large cast with consummate skill. The sharp and clever dialogue, meaningful themes (including a description of how women are demeaned and manual laborers are exploited in Saudi Arabia and Dubai), as well as the nicely staged action sequences all combine to make this one of the most entertaining espionage thrillers of the year.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 446 readers
PUBLISHER: Harper; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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July 25, 2011 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  В· Posted in: Denmark, France, New York City, Saudia Arabia, Sleuths Series, Thriller/Spy/Caper, United Kingdom, Washington, D.C.

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