Four months after the deadliest attack on the American homeland since 9/11, terrorists leave a trail of carnage through London's glittering West End. The attack is a brilliant feat of planning and secrecy, but with one loose thread. The thread leads Gabriel Allon and his team of operatives to the south of France and to the gilded doorstep of Jean-Luc Martel and Olivia Watson. A beautiful former British fashion model, Olivia pretends not to know that the true source of Martel's enormous wealth is drugs. And Martel, likewise, turns a blind eye to the fact he is doing business with a man whose objective is the very destruction of the West. Together, under Gabriel's skilled hand, they will become an unlikely pair of heroes in the global war on terrorism.
This installment, alas, does not pack the wallop of its predecessor. The plot--Gabriel and his allies in France, England, and the United States collaborate on a ruse to catch Saladin that could easily end in disaster--is similar to those Silva has used before. In addition, too many secondary characters pad the long narrative, and the story is wrapped up a bit too tidily. Now that he occupies such an important position, Gabriel has resolved to quit fieldwork. However, his desire for payback once again drives him to take risks that should be off the table for someone who is supposed to oversee operations, not take part in them. Assisting Allon and his colleagues is Christopher Keller, a former member of the SAS, whose impressive fighting skills and resourcefulness make him valued asset. This novel has a great deal of violence, intrigue, financial chicanery, touches of light humor, and even a hint of romance.
To his credit, Silva, a thorough researcher, provides alarming information about how Morocco's role in the drug trade helps bankroll ISIS, and the author also explains how terrorists can smuggle weapons (including materials for "dirty bombs") from one country to another without detection. Although it is a serviceable effort, "House of Spies" lacks the passion, thrills, realism, and sense of immediacy that made "The Black Widow" so riveting.
It features the familiar spy, assassin, artist and art restorer, Gabriel Allon. He is Head of ‘The Office’ now (Head of Israeli Intelligence) and is hunting Saladin, an ISIS mastermind.
I like all the familiar characters, but Christopher Keller stands out in this particular title.
Very fast-paced, suspenseful with complex plots; interesting and powerful images and characters - I never tire of Mr. Silva’s writing.
Gabriel Allon, a favorite character for me in the spy novel genre, has ascended to the top of the Israeli intelligence service. A terrorist attack takes place in London with weapons that lead back to Allon's bete noire, the super-elusive Saladin. Intelligence groups from various western powers see the situation as an opportunity to finally bring Saladin to justice, if they can only find him. Enter Allon, who has a powerful incentive to locate the terror mastermind (see 'The Black Widow').
The plot (I won't go into details) bogs down in the middle. Intelligence leads the good guys to a rich Frenchman who has wittingly been helping Saladin through drug transactions and washing the money via an art gallery owned by his beautiful female partner. The spies determine that'll be the path they'll take to smoke out Saladin. They eventually do so. At a high level, the plot sounds pretty interesting, but along the way there are far too many unrealistic details, implausible situations, and activities that just don't pass the smell test.
Silva's writing is fine although the dialogue is sometimes a bit off. His descriptions have always been very detailed but have often seemed a little on the melodramatic side (I can see the phrase 'rich Corinthian leather' showing up in one of his novels at some point....). All in all, House of Spies is a decent spy thriller with one of the great characters of the genre, just not at the level of Silva's prior efforts.
In HOUSE OF SPIES, Gabriel Allon would like nothing more than being free and available to spend time with his wife and young twin children but as the newly named leader of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, it seems that is not likely to happen soon. A series of deadly bomb attacks in London appear to have be planned by his nemesis, an ISIS mastermind known as Saladin. Saladin had previously killed Israelis. Another member of the squad, a doctor, saved his life but he could then identify her.
There appears to be one way to find this mysterious terrorist: The French-Moroccan criminal and ISIS operative who supplied the weapons.
Using the talents of Mossad agents and working with British and French intelligence departments, the hunt is on to find the operative. They develop a complicated and expensive ruse to try to locate the operative to try to get him to reveal the information they desperately need to find and stop Saladin.
While Allon could have stayed in the Office and directed the operation from there, this was a personal issue and Allon wanted to be there when he was captured. So, he traveled to England, France, Morocco, and the US to get the support needed to try to complete the mission.
“An MI6 officer... never resorts to violence. And if he does feel the need to draw a weapon or throw a punch, it’s only because he hasn’t done his job properly.”
Referring to a line of car approaching a villa at night: “An unclasped diamond necklace of car lights lay along the shore..., flowing towards the gate of the Villa.
After the death of Gaddafi, no country stepped in with money and other assistance to help the newly freed country “make the transition from a tribal society to a Western style democracy....As a result of our inaction, Libya became yet another failed state, and ISIS moved into the void.”
I expect some major changes in Allon’s life in the next book. He is realizing that his children will grow up and not really know him. That is beginning to bother him.
On the whole, the story moves quickly but there are a few spots where it drags. Previous stories are referenced but it isn’t necessary to have read those books to follow this one. I thought that too much money was used to try to achieve the goal. It could have been accomplished with less. Many chapters are unnecessarily short and could easily have been combined. I think authors and/or publishers have a low opinion of their readers and think they have exceedingly short attention spans. I drop my rating one star because of that.
That said, the books have become a bit formalistic over the last several years. The first 300 pages are focused on building the back story. The next 100 involve the execution of the master plan which ends up going awry.. The last 100 involve Gabriel utilizing his unique skill set to save the failed operation. House of Spies pretty much adheres to this structure.
Despite being formalistic, House of Spies is a damn fine read. Allen's new counter balance ex-SSA officer/Mob assign Keller is a competing character who's role grows. The rest of the gang is back and therefore the book serves as conduit for a reunion of fictional friends.
Much of the formula remains hidden to those that have not read all of these books and Silva is such a skilled author that he never fails to catch you up in the action. Whether you are in old reader or just getting introduced to the legend of the Avenging Angel you'll like this one and won't regret the time spent among friends. If you are not careful, you also might learn something.
Daniel Silva writes great spy novels filled with suspense and tension. He creates excitement with ease, and this book is no exception. At times, though, it is too wordy. In addition, there are an awful lot of characters to keep track of, and some have similar names which adds to the confusion that is sometimes created. Although the subject of the novel is not funny, the dialogue between the characters often contains humor which diffuses the tension created by the story. Gabriel Allon, the head of Israeli Intelligence, is one of my favorite characters in a novel. This is the 17th in this series, and I am not bored yet.
After a series of terrorist attacks in varied worldwide locations, Gabriel Allon has identified the mastermind behind them, and he is determined to find and eliminate him. He secretly engages the help of Great Britain and France to track the terrorist down. Saladin must be stopped from causing further violence. He is evil. Allon devises a scheme using false identities, subterfuge and betrayal. The elaborate plan that is hatched involves role playing and great danger. The world becomes the stage for the search to find the terrorist.
Isis is buying drugs from a big dealer who masquerades as a legitimate entrepreneur. They are then sold and the money raised is used to fund the purchase of weapons for the terrorist group. That is not the goal for the mastermind, however. He wants to wreak as much havoc and destruction as possible. He wants no ordinary weapons. He wants to bring about the Caliphate and will do anything necessary to accomplish his evil plans. He wants material for a dirty bomb. He must be stopped and so must his plot. Can the violence be prevented before more deaths occur, before a city is rendered uninhabitable? Will Allon and his allies be successful?