The Defector

by Daniel Silva

Book, 2009

Barcode

123456790

Call number

FIC SIL

Collection

Publication

New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2009.

Description

Gabriel Allon's idyllic world is once again thrown into turmoil with shocking news from London. The defector and former Russian intelligence officer Grigori Bulganov, who saved Gabriel's life in Moscow, has vanished without a trace. British intelligence is sure he was a double agent all along, but Gabriel knows better. He also knows he made a promise--a promise that leads to a deadly duel of nerve and wits with one of the world's most ruthless men: the murderous Russian oligarch and arms dealer Ivan Kharkov.

Media reviews

Associated Press
"The Defector" is the perfect book for fans of well-crafted thrillers to pack in their tote bags for a day at the beach, the kind of page-turner that captures the reader from the opening chapter and doesn't let go.
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And yet, for all of its shortcomings, "The Defector" held me. Maybe it's Silva's skill in describing the flavor of such different places as London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Zurich, Washington, Moscow and more, or in making his plots deliciously complicated.

User reviews

LibraryThing member terk71
This novel will pass as an ordinary spy thriller, following the adventures of a vengeful protagonist as he pursues targets throughout the world, unless the reader decodes the contents to understand the knavery and symbolism afoot within. Daniel Silva’s book is a masterful construction and an
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allegorical writing.

The story begins with the sudden disappearance of Grigori Bulganov, a chess-playing Russian defector living in England. The format of the book indicates Silva’s game play within. The 77 chapters are loosely divided within five segments, the first indicating “Opening Moves”—the opening gambit for Silva’s chess match.

This strategy suggests that the entire work will conclude within “The Reckoning” section: the moves toward the endgame of this match. The middlegame is pursued through “Anatoly,” “All Even,” and “Resurrection Gate,” which are the competition wherein pawns (numerous lackeys), knights (Vladimir Chernov), bishops (Anton Petrov) are surrendered and finally dispatched. Meanwhile, the protagonist Gabriel ventures through zugzwang—a forced move—of his wife’s kidnapping that compels him to rescue her, which he does only to be trapped in a zwischenzug—a counter move—forcing the endgame wherein the king (Ivan Kharkov) will be capitulated.

Silva’s symbolisms begin with Bulganov’s first name: Grigori. In Biblical lore the Grigori are the watchers or holy ones of the fallen angels (Kharkov’s henchmen). Silva’s opening ploy in the struggle of good and evil is embellished through the names of the characters involved in this global contest. Parsing their names enriches their allegorical functions within this story.

Ari (“Lion of God”) Shamron is introduced as the Memuneh (A deputy angel and dispenser of dreams, through whom the Universe operates) of the Israeli intelligence unit operating on King Saul Boulevard in Tel Aviv, familiarly termed “The Office.” Shamron’s White game pieces include:

Gabriel (God’s Archangel Messenger to humans) Allon (“Oak Tree” and perhaps a reference to the son of Jedaiah who expelled the Hamites from Gedor)—the protagonist operative and son of Shamron. Gabriel is said to stand on God’s left hand, which is the sinister position that is significant to the undercover, wet jobs that earthly Gabriel alone accomplishes.

Uzi (Israeli submachine gun innovated by Uziel Gal in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War) Navot (Shlomo Navot was an Israeli ace pilot during the same conflict)—Shamron’s other son who is the Office’s impulsive muscle.

Mikhael (Michael, Archangel in command of God’s Army) Abramov (“Son of Abraham”)—Gabriel’s chief aide in many Israeli-sanctioned, clandestine operations.

The Black opponents or the dark side is led by kingpin Ivan (Ivan the Terrible, Russia’s destructive tsar) Kharkov (Ukrainian city that was devastated through German-Soviet hostilities between 1941 and 1943) has enriched and empowered his castle by plundering the resources and wealth of the toppled Soviet Union. He employs malignant minions that include:

Vladimir (Vlad the Impaler) Chernov (Slovak meaning Black)—Kharkov’s hired gun and chief assassin who shamelessly rids Kharkov’s opposition.

Anton (Anthony as in Julius Caesar’s Mark Anthony) Petrov (Peter, also Petrov’s Defense is a duplicitous chess strategy)—the middleman handling Kharkov’s directives and Chernov’s money who becomes Kharkov’s turncoat.

One entity that seems to be missing is Raphael (Archangel of healing), although this might be inferred tangentially with Gabriel’s attempts at refurbishing Vatican paintings or perhaps it could allude to Gilah Shamron’s therapeutic ministrations to Gabriel’s wife. There are other lesser name associations at play in this novel. Gabriel’s first wife Leah (“Delicate,” “soft”) is mentally fragile and institutionalized after a Vienna bombing, and Gabriel’s current spouse Chiara (“Clear”) suffers PTSD while he paints her in chiaroscuro.

I love Silva’s clever, connotative naming of his characters and I admire his roguish construction of his chess-board plotting. There certainly is more gaming at play in this novel than plain writing.
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LibraryThing member DanStratton
I started reading Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon novels several years ago. I love a good spy story and Daniel Silva never disappoints. This is another high energy installment in the Gabriel Allon saga trying to save his country from the evils of another international thug. Set in the present day,
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Silva weaves the story into the fabric of current events, offering commentary on our present situations, while telling a very entertaining story.

What intrigues me most about the Allon series is he isn't CIA. Allon is an Israeli spy, working for The Office. I am fascinated by the difference in the way the Jewish mind reacts to threats, even the view of history. Silva's Israelis take threats very seriously and meet them head on, taking action before others have the chance to even act themselves. They don't wait around for the bully to throw the first punch. He makes it clear the lessons of the Holocaust have sunk deep into the fabric of the country. When they say, "Never Again," they mean it.

The Defector picks up right after Moscow Rules and continues the story. As with real life, the act of helping the wife and children of a Russian oligarch escape will have strong repercussions that last well beyond the actual incident. This book is the mop up of the previous events, round two of the title bout. The oligarch strikes back, kidnapping not only one of the defectors Allon brought out, but Allon's own wife, in a bold attempt to get his children back. Allon must dig deep and once again become the hunter to get his wife back alive. The game of digging for information and creating plans is swift and rapid paced. As evidenced by my reading the entire book in three days, this story is on a frenetic pace.

This is not a book for the weak of stomach. If waterboarding Al-Qiada terrorists bothers you, you won't last long in this book. The tortures used are brutal, fast and effective. There is more blood flow in this book than most of Silva's stories. There were parts I wanted to skip over, as it was too graphic for me. Sometimes less description can be just as powerful as a full rendition.

I believe Silva is making a statement of the pointlessness of trying to negotiate with thugs. He shows how when time is of the highest priority, it doesn't make sense to 'ask nicely' and expect an answer. Silva's operatives know their enemies hate them and no amount of talking is going to change that hatred. The enemy has their own deep seeded beliefs and no amount of trying to explain why their belief is mistaken will result in an instant conversion. When people have been taught to hate their entire life, drastic measures may be the only course of action. Silva helps me understand the real life responses Israel makes to terrorists lobbing rockets into their cities on a daily basis. Bringing peace to the Middle East is not going to happen over a few weeks, months or years.

Allon wins the day, of course, but Silva shows how no one really escapes these experiences unscathed. Sometimes I wish he would let Allon retire to his first love - restoring old paintings and leave him be. Of course, that can't happen. Israel can't rest either, in today's world. They have enemies constantly trying to destroy them. Constant vigilance and action is the only way they will survive. Allon, like the entire nation, will have to keep fighting for their right to live.
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LibraryThing member repb
Silva is one of favorite authors but I am getting weary of his Gabriel Allon series and hope this will be the last one. A good read if Silva is a new author to you, but to a fan like myself, they are getting very repetitive. He needs a new angle altogether!
LibraryThing member joanj
Good series - fast-paced intelligent spy novel - sequel to Moscow Rules
LibraryThing member TedWitham
I enjoy Daniel Silva's fast-moving spy-thrillers, especially those with Gabriel Allon as their protagonist. I am somewhat put off by the politics which justify every and any action of the Israeli state and its secret services. Particularly difficult for me is Allon's licence to kill abd his pride
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in murdering many 'enemies of Israel'.
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LibraryThing member Lillian3
I guess it all depends on what you are reading for. Lots of action, killing, predictable sequence of events here. This is the 9th book in the series, and I agree with those who say these are getting "Pattersonesque". Chiara, Venice, and Allon's art restoration have gotten short shrift in the last
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two books. I still like the idea of the Gabriel Allon ... but he is turning into a generic character.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
Still enjoy the series although it does get more bloody and slightly more unrealistic. There is just enough truth concerning the world, politics, arms, violence, etc to make the books very readable. Do like the people in the books.
LibraryThing member kd9
Although this book is really the second half of the previous Gabriel Allon book, Moscow Rules, there is enough background material inserted that most people should be able to follow the twists and turns of this spy thriller. However, I strongly recommend going back to the very first book in this
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series and read them all the way through. Only then can you really understand the politics and the personal sacrifices that each character has made in order to safeguard the state of Israel, the Israeli secret service and the men and women who serve.

Here Gabriel Allon, once a promising painter and now a art restorer, is drawn back into his career as an Israel spy by the kidnapping of a Russian spy, Grigori Bulganov, who Gabriel had smuggled out of Russian along with the wife and children of Russia's largest and most ruthless arms dealer, Ivan Kharkov. England is convinced that Grigori has redefected (and was always a double agent), but Gabriel and Olga, an ex-Russian journalist escaped to England, know that would never be the case. Instead Grigori was lured into a trap by the arms dealer using Grigori's wife as hostage. But more dangerously, Ivan has kidnapped Gabriel's wife, Chiara, in exchange for the return of Ivan's children.

Yes, there is bloodshed and feats of courage, but equally importantly is the picture of the politics of Russia and Western Europe and Israel. A world made much more unstable by the collapse of the global economy.

I always appreciate the books that illuminate parts of the world that I have not visited and explain points of view that I may have not considered, especially when well written and suspenseful.
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LibraryThing member LeaAnn
This was the best Silva I've read in a while. I felt Moscow Rules fell a bit flat, but the Defector did not disappoint. Silva is never really one for serial novels, and for the most part you don't have to have read Moscow Rules to follow the Defector, but having read both makes the story here that
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much richer.

Suspense throughout and this time an emotional connection to a very real danger. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but I will say even though I suspected what was coming, it still kept me turning page after page in anticipation.

I also liked how the Defector rewarded Silva's fans by reintroducing characters from earlier stories: Herr Becker from Death in Vienna for instance. It's a reminder of the journey the fan has taken with Gabriel Allon through the years.
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LibraryThing member skraft001
I was disappointed in this book. The first 200 pages have heavy reference to Moscow Rules -- so much so that I think the book should come with a warning label on Page 1 that theis book will not be enjoyed if you don't read Moscow Rules first.

After the plot for this book really begins, i.e. the
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kidnap and rescue of Allon's wife -- it is unbearably predictable. Really no plot turns or twists that kept you turning the pages.

I had read Death in Vienna as my first Silva novel and enjoyed it immensely. After reading The Defector, I'm questioning whether I'll read anything another of his books.
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LibraryThing member khiemstra631
Daniel Silva, please, do not send Gabriel Allon to Russia in any forthcoming books. I do not believe my nerves could stand another of these trips. This book will make the hairs on your body stand on end while you read it. Silva is a master of suspense who just keeps getting better with each book. I
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do not think there is a weak title in the series. This is a book not to be missed and one that will not do all that much to encourage tourism to Russia.
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LibraryThing member PghDragonMan
Gabriel Allon and his team are back. Daniel Silva gives these characters a high tension drama to move in. As is usual with successful spy novels, the story borders on believability. Silva creates a believable fiction around some very possible scenarios: a Russian defector living in England, a
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Russian arms dealer megamillionaire and old friends in Allon’s spook network. Just to ratchet the tension up a little more, the bad guys make a serious mistake in kidnapping Allon’s wife.

All the elements are in place for a rather mundane story of espionage, betrayal and revenge. Daniel Silva elevates these plot elements into a truly gripping novel with the right blend of violence and brains to create a spy novel, and a character, worthy of standing next to Ian Fleming’s James Bond or John Le Carré’s classics. While the plot is based on relatively current events, Allon and his people are old school spies: their brains and their actions get them out of tight spots, not high tech gadgetry.

Highly suggested for fans of the classic spy novels mentioned above. If you are more of a high tech spy fan, this story may not do it for you, but action fans will be intrigued.
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LibraryThing member readafew
The Defector is the 9th book in the Gabriel Allon series. Gabriel and Chiara are recuperating at a villa in Italy, Gabriel is refinishing a painting for the Vatican. Both are laying low, off Ivan Kharkov’s radar, whose family defected from Russia and from him who was helped by Gabriel and his
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team. Out of the blue Grigori Bulganov, another person who defected at the same time as Ivan’s family, disappeared from Britain and it appeared he left on his own violation. Gabriel didn’t buy it and decided to look into it and keep a promise he made.

While Gabriel was looking into Grigori’s disappearance and checking on other people who could be in on the hit list, when his wife Chiara is kidnapped. Gabriel knows who did it and why. The question he wants answered is can he get her back alive?

This was my favorite Gabriel Allon book and it kept the action and suspense up there without getting overpowering. In this one Gabriel is a man with a mission and it is deeply personal. He has an enemy who is rich and powerful and knows he’s coming. I relate this to a ‘man on fire’ kind of book, someone has crossed the line and Gabriel plans on making them pay. Lots of action, lots of excitement and a great spy story on top of it all.
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LibraryThing member Talbin
The Defector, the ninth book in Daniel Silva's series about Israeli spy Gabriel Allon, continues where his last book, Moscow Rules left off. In the previous book, Allon had confronted Ivan Kharkov, Russian arms dealer, and in the process Allon helped Grigori Bulgarov, Olga Sukhov and Kharkov's
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wife, Elena, defect to the West. As The Defector begins, Bulgarov disappears from London. The London authorities think he has re-defected back to Russia, but Allon knows differently. He begins looking into the case, finds evidence that shows that Bulgarov's disappearance was not voluntary, and goes on the hunt for him. As things progress, an Israeli colleague is kidnapped, and Allon must work with the English and Americans to bring down Kharkov and rescue the people who have been kidnapped.

This was a fast read, quite plot driven. I still consider Silva to be one of the best writer/stylists of the best-selling book crowd. As his books have progressed, he has played with voice and style, and he continues with a bit of that here with the narrative voice. Because I find it hard to read a book that may have an interesting story but is poorly written (think The Da Vinci Code), I appreciate Silva's novels as a good way to escape reality without annoying the heck out of me.

However, I would say that The Defector is not Silva's best book. In most of the series, each book allows the reader to find out more about Gabriel Allon. However, in this latest installment, Allon seems flat, without nuance. Earlier books have a fascinating combination of intelligent puzzle-solving (often involving Allon's work as an art restorer) and adrenaline-spiked action. Unfortunate for The Defector, is almost all about the action and very little of the spy craft.

So, overall, a solid enough book as far as these types of books go, but certainly not one of Silva's best.
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LibraryThing member theportal2002
Another edge of your seat, heart pumping story. In this book Gabriel Allon ventures into Russia to pull off another exciting mission. This time it gets personal, very person, then the blood begins to flow. In this story Gabriel can't afford to hold back or let his conscience get in the way...I feel
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sorry for those who did...
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LibraryThing member bacreads
I have read all of the Gabriel Allon series and I think they are a good "beach" read. Suspense, subterfuge, and twists are always present. The downside is that there is a lot of violence and taking of life.
LibraryThing member skinglist
One of my favorite lines from the Defector. "The bodyguard had not been able to hear what had just transpired but he was certain of one thing. The Old Man was still the one in charge. And he had just put the fear of God in Sergei Korovin". Shamron will always be in charge. My heart broke for Chiara
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and Gabriel in this one.

It was one of my favorite Gabriel Allon books but at the same time it's also the one that nearly made me quit the series on the spot. While I knew RA was out and truly do not think that Gabriel would go on without Chiara, at the moment she was taken I had to go look up a description for Rembrandt Affair to be sure Chiara had survived. If she hadn't? I don't think I'd have finished the book. I think her being taken hit me harder than Shamron's injury a few books back. She, maybe even more than Gabriel is the reason I keep reading. I like how Silva used her to tie together gabriel's past and future: visiting Leah, Lior & Mottti being buried by Daniel on the Mt. of Olives...

I worry for Ari even more than ever now. He was physically hurt in the car bombing some books ago but he was emotionally destroyed by his "children" being in danger. He's strong and he is Israel, but he cannot go on forever. I fear that his or Chiara's death will be the end of gabriel. I like that Gillah took care of Chiara while Allon was taking care of business in Europe. I don't think for a moment that Chiara or Gabriel are done with the Office but I'm glad Ari didn't hold Gabriel to his promise. Only Ari can fire him. But this isn't the end. Not just because there are two books left.

Not sure why I'd stopped reading this series but I'm glad to be "home", heartbreak and all.

--
(after reading other reviews)
I'm really not feeling the predictability. Maybe because I've been away so long. I was far more burned out on Patterson where Alex seems to get himself in the same mess say in and day out. To me this is different. Taking Chiara? I think that will shape Gabriel for a long time to come. At the same time? They're still office. They know these risks.
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LibraryThing member jimgysin
Generally speaking, it's safe to say that a few hours spent with Daniel Silva and Gabriel Allon will be hours well spent. This ninth outing for the Israeli art restorer and spy is every bit as good--if not better--than its predecessors. The setting for the bad guys is once again Russia, and the
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main thorn in the Israeli side is one of those mega-rich "new Russian" types who have benefited--by any means necessary--from Russia's new economy and the various Wild West-like aspects of it. When Allon's wife is targeted as payback for events that took place in the last book, Gabriel is once again drawn back into a world and a life that he continues to desperately want to put behind him. Listing all of the good things about this one would take a long time, so I'll just point out the two disappointments, both of which come near the end. One revolved around Silva's decision to employ the trite and overused plot device of the bad guy who, instead of just dispatching the heroes in his custody, opts instead to get all chatty and provide time for the heroes' friends and/or associates to bail them out. The other disappointment was in the resolution of the principal antagonist's part of the tale at the very end, which was extremely anticlimactic and practically screamed of an impending deadline facing the author. Still, resolution is there, if in relatively abbreviated form, which will please those who don't like open-ended conclusions.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
This is my 2nd or 3rd Gabriel Allon read, and it seems I tend to always read the abridged audio. As an abridgment, it seemed okay, but as a reader, you always wonder what you're missing. In short, this story was fairly unremarkable to me and I doubt that it will stick with me for very long. I
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didn't care for this one as much as previous Daniel Silva reads, and I think that was primarily because of all of the excessive cold-blooded violence in this one. That, combined with the fact that I had trouble keeping track of all the Russian names & characters, which is probably more difficult in an audio versus written book.
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LibraryThing member Balthazar-Lawson
Even though I've not read any previous books in the series, I enjoyed this. This is a story of revenge, by good guys and bad guys, among spies and criminals. I might have to read the rest in the series now.
LibraryThing member Ameise1
I always love the Gabriel Allon's thrillers and haven't been disappointed with this one. Gabriel and his team are hunting the evil ones across Europe but mostly they are in England and Russia. For Gabriel it's a very personal mission because his wife has been captured from his nemesis Ivan. The
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story is very enthralling and fast-paced. I couldn't put it away. It kept me guessing until the very last page if Gabriel and Chiara will have a future.
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LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
Daniel Silva is back with another exciting espionage thriller featuring the famed art restorer and occasional Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon. Building upon the story begun in Moscow Rules, this book finds Gabriel and his wife back home in Umbria, a few months after the events in Moscow Rules ended.
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Allon is in the process of restoring an altarpiece for the Vatican, when he receives word that the Russian defector, Grigori Bulganov, has vanished. Bulganov was a former colonel in the Russian Federal Security Service who had defected to the British. He was also a man to whom Gabriel owes his life. Upon hearing of his disappearance, Allon and his team set out on a deadly race through Europe and Russian, and against time, to find his old friend. Allon soon learns of a horrific plot to destroy both himself and his family, which is being hatched by terrorist, Ivan Kharkov, the former KGB agent turned arms dealer, and a man with whom Gabriel made an enemy of in the last book.

This book was an exciting and complex novel, and even better than Moscow Rules. While you should read Moscow Rules before reading The Defector, it is not absolutely necessary. Silva provides enough of a back story to allow you to follow the action. No one does spy thrillers better than Daniel Silva and I highly recommend any one of his Gabriel Allon series book.
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LibraryThing member utbw42
I compare this to Flynn's Memorial Day; as I consider that Flynn's masterpiece, I also consider this to be Silva's masterpiece (so far). All of Allon's experiences, memories, nightmares, etc. culminate in a blinding page-turner, as his wife is finally abducted by some of the very evil he is sworn
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to combat for mother Israel, reluctant as he is at times. In the last 150 pages of this book, one sees Allon drop all pretense, and Gladiator-style emotional revenge ensues. I literally could not put the book down at that point.
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LibraryThing member bushard
good but not great
LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
Daniel Silva is back with another exciting espionage thriller featuring the famed art restorer and occasional Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon. Building upon the story begun in Moscow Rules, this book finds Gabriel and his wife back home in Umbria, a few months after the events in Moscow Rules ended.
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Allon is in the process of restoring an altarpiece for the Vatican, when he receives word that the Russian defector, Grigori Bulganov, has vanished. Bulganov was a former colonel in the Russian Federal Security Service who had defected to the British. He was also a man to whom Gabriel owes his life. Upon hearing of his disappearance, Allon and his team set out on a deadly race through Europe and Russian, and against time, to find his old friend. Allon soon learns of a horrific plot to destroy both himself and his family, which is being hatched by terrorist, Ivan Kharkov, the former KGB agent turned arms dealer, and a man with whom Gabriel made an enemy of in the last book.

This book was an exciting and complex novel, and even better than Moscow Rules. While you should read Moscow Rules before reading The Defector, it is not absolutely necessary. Silva provides enough of a back story to allow you to follow the action. No one does spy thrillers better than Daniel Silva and I highly recommend any one of his Gabriel Allon series book.
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Original publication date

2010-07

ISBN

0399155680
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