Monday, September 2, 2013

The English Girl by Daniel Silva

Gabriel Allon appears in his 13th novel by Daniel Silva in The English Girl. Once again, Silva does not disappoint. He is an author on whom the reader can count to deliver a story with twists, turns, strong characters and well researched locations. 

At the end of Silva's last book, The Fallen Angel, we left Gabriel and Chiara in Jerusalem after having survived a major terrorism incident. The destiny of a number of familiar characters was hanging in the balance and the reader had to wait an entire year to read of their fate. The action of this latest novel begins in Corsica where Madeline Hart, the English Girl, is kidnapped. She has been linked to having an affair with the British Prime Minister and the ransom for her life will need to be paid before she is released and the proof destroyed. Allon is called upon to help rescue her - his ability to slip in and out of countries without detection is a major reason. His task further takes him Marseilles, France, Surrey, Essex and the private realm of #10 Downing Street before the climax in Russia.

Along the way Gabriel enlists the aid of Christopher Keller, an operative who once had Allon in his sights. Their alliance, tho unusual, takes advantage of each man's talents and skills. However, as is typical of Silva's books, the plan encounters a major roadblock in the explosion of the car with Hart's body in the trunk at the time of the arranged exchange. Gabriel becomes more focused on avenging the girl's death and soon the familiar team is assembled at a safe house in Surrey. The plan pieced together like working on a jigsaw puzzle. Each element is crucial to the completion of the mission. The complex strategy requires infiltration of a Russian Oil company and another kidnapping. 

When the reader begins to feel like all the pieces are falling into place, the puzzle is reconfigured. There are enough twists and turns that finally come to a brilliant conclusion. Daniel Silva is a master storyteller. The action keeps the reader turning pages to see the completed puzzle as a whole entity. What is even more masterful is ability to paint a picture of a place. His attention to detail is superb and consummate and his insight into world affairs profound. In The English Girl he has prophesied the Snowdon affair as well as the use of chemical weapons by Syria and the Hezbollah. We are left wondering if the old woman fortuneteller in Corsica was as astute with her prognostications? I guess we will learn in July, 2014.