How does he know? Daniel Silva may be the most clairvoyant writer of all time. In his book from 2016 he predicts ISIS terrorist attacks before they happened. So eerie were the predictions that Silva, in his preface, nearly delayed the publication of this book.
The Black Widow is the 16th adventure that involves art restorer/Israeli intelligence officer Gabriel Allon. Silva brings back in this novel some of his familiar characters and some new ones, his twins Irene and Raphael. As the novel opens, an explosion in Paris kills one of those characters from The Messenger and Gabriel inherits a very valuable painting. However, before taking possession of the painting, he must aid the French in the investigation and bringing the terrorists to justice.
He realizes that he must infiltrate the ISIS group and chooses a brilliant Israeli doctor, Natalie Mizrahi. She was originally born in France, but moved to Israel with her parents to whom she is still very close. Reluctant at first, she agrees to the plan as revenge for the death of her former boyfriend. With intensive training in the Muslim religion and way of life she assumes the identity of Leila Hadawi.
As the Israeli intelligence moves through the investigation, they identify the perpetrator of the attack as Saladin and it is up to Natalie/Leila to discover Saladin's true persona. In tense and pressure filled drama, she is asked to save Saladin's life when she is called to his compound after he is injured. She realizes that she could let the mastermind die and her self be killed because of it or she could save his life and allow him to continue to devise horrific terrorist plots. With every turn of the page, the reader is thrust into thrilling scenes and "edge of seat" events. From Paris to Paris to Jerusalem to Raqqa to Washington, the action builds as Natalie pursues her mission in outing Saladin and the Black Widow.
As in all of Silva's books, if one divulges more of the plot, the suspense is spoiled for those who read. Suffice it to say, that once started, the reader will not rest until it is finished. Daniel Silva does not hide his political bias in any of his novels, and this one is no exception. His contempt for the soft treatment of ISIS by the Obama administration is obvious. One of the author's most skillful hallmarks is his ability to develop characters. In this novel, Natalie's personality is well developed and crafted. Readers understand her dilemma, appreciate the moral and ethical decisions she must make while still developing an empathy for the warring sides in the Middle East.
Although The Black Widow could be read as a stand-alone novel, one would be cheating him/herself if the other 15 had not been read. Having just finished this book, Silva's new one just arrived on my doorstep and I cannot wait to crack it open. Daniel Silva is a genius.