The English Spy (Gabriel Allon)

by Daniel Silva

Paperback, 2018

Call number




Harper Paperbacks (2018), Edition: Reprint, 496 pages


The target is royal. The game is revenge. She is an iconic member of the British Royal Family, beloved for her beauty and charitable works, resented by her former husband and his mother, the Queen of England. When a bomb explodes aboard her holiday yacht, British intelligence turns to one man to track down her killer: legendary spy and assassin Gabriel Allon. Gabriel's target is Eamon Quinn, a master bomb maker and mercenary of death who sells his services to the highest bidder. Fortunately Gabriel does not pursue him alone; at his side is Christopher Keller, a British commando turned professional assassin who knows Quinn's murderous handiwork all too well. And though Gabriel does not realize it, he is stalking an old enemy - a cabal of evil that wants nothing more than to see him dead. Gabriel will find it necessary to oblige them, for when a man is out for vengeance, death has its distinct advantages.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
The English Spy, author, Daniel Silva, narrator, George Guidall
This is a tale of espionage involving Israel, Great Britain and the United States. The author does not seem to be a fan of the current political atmosphere under Barack Obama, and he comments on the way Israel is being treated by our government and also on the current Iran talks concerning nuclear weapons, of which he does not seem to approve. Many comments disparage Obama’s rudeness and his disengagement and possible disrespect of the Israeli government. He also comments on aspects of the Israeli and British governments, of which is not enamored.
The novel is read well by George Guidall, with just the right amount of expression. The narrative crosses numerous countries in Europe, as several spy agencies collaborate and try to solve the mystery of what caused an explosion on a yacht carrying a former British princess, the divorced first wife of the heir to the throne. Her mysterious death begins the intrigue, but sub plots within the plot drive the tale further. The twists and turns can sometimes be confusing, so perhaps a print book would be a better choice than the audio version.
In this fifteenth book of the Allon series, Gabriel Allon, future head of The Office, in Israel, is intercepted while on his way to Rome to restore a Caravaggio painting. Graham Seymour, of MI6, had been quietly contacted by Israeli intelligence with information about the assassin, Eamon Quinn, whom they believe was behind the murder of the former princess. Gabriel Allon is considered the one best suited for the task of finding this murderer. With Christopher Keller, a former British agent who is now a paid assassin, the team is assembled to solve the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. Allon decides to take on the investigation, although his wife, Chiara, is only weeks away from giving birth to their twins. Because he is on the older side now, and more important, because he is soon to be promoted to head Israeli intelligence, it is not really a good idea for him to be involved and put in so much danger, but he makes the decision to join the effort, with his wife’s support, because the search soon becomes personal to him. Allon wants to catch Eamon Quinn. He is a killer for hire. A former member of the IRA, he was in prison when he met Tariq, an Islamic terrorist, a bomb-maker who was having trouble with his timing mechanisms. Quinn taught him how to make a better bomb. He then used his new knowledge to blow up Allon’s car, taking his son Daniel’s life and permanently destroying his first wife’s emotional stability. Allon was supposed to be in that car, but on that day, it was his first wife and son who became the targets instead. This sub plot involves Islamic terrorists, the Palestinian Arabs.
Christopher is willing to return to the intelligence service because for him the capture of Quinn is also personal. Both men, Allon and Keller, had once worked together to take down the IRA. Keller’s girlfriend and son were murdered when his informant turned on him, revealing their whereabouts. Keller and Allon are the two agents best suited for this kind of espionage effort. They are explosive experts. They both knew Quinn, and Keller had once been his prisoner.
On the other side of the coin, for Quinn, it is also personal. He wants to kill both Keller and Allon for the part they played in stopping the IRA and in the murder of many of its members. However, Quinn seems to take pleasure in the killing and the others do not. They are doing a job, while Quinn seems to be enjoying himself and priding himself on his kills.
Allon and Keller follow leads which bring them in contact with Quinn’s Russian accomplice, a young woman who was trained with Madeline Hart, the young Russian spy Allon brought to England. Unknown to them, the beautiful Russian woman they are following is going to plant a bomb. When Quinn leaves a cryptic message, “the bricks are in the wall”, on Allon’s cell phone, they know something terrible is about to happen. The message is proof positive to Allon that the assassin’s identity is Eamon Quinn. Quinn is a master bomb-maker. The bombing of the yacht was for the purpose of fleshing Allon out of the shadows. The Russians are angry with Allon for rescuing their spy, Madeline Hart, and providing her sanctuary in a safe house. The defection humiliated them. The bombing in front of Harrods was Quinn’s next stage which was intended to take out both Keller and Allon.
The plot twists and turns. There are personal vendettas to be resolved and while the book is not rocket science, it is really well written and well researched. It will keep you coming back for more as the tension builds slowly to a crescendo. One thing is important to think about at the end of the book. While it is true that Quinn was a cold blooded murderer as was the female Russian agent he worked with, so also were Allon and Keller. It gave me pause when I considered the thin line that separated the killer who was good and the killer who was evil and the reasons that defined both. Both thought they were working for a good cause, but the goodness seemed to be “in the eyes of the beholder”. Also, the Israelis were depicted as brutal when they questioned prisoners. I wondered if it showed that enhanced interrogation actually worked. Regardless, it seems that everyone involved turned a blind eye to everyone’s violence in the interest of their own cause.
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LibraryThing member Judiex
As Gabriel Allon, Israeli spy and assassin, is preparing for two major changes in his life, the birth of twins and a promotion to the head of the department, he is once again called upon to help locate a very smart, dangerous professional assassin, Eamon Quinn, an expert bomb maker who sells his services to the highest bidder..
THE ENGLISH SPY opens with the death of a British princess, based loosely on Princess Diana, which is called a boating accident but is more likely a murder. His job is to try to find the person responsible for setting off the bomb that blew up the ship. Accompanying him is Christopher Keller, a British commander and professional assassin.
As more bombs explode, it quickly becomes obvious that Allon and Keller have become the targets. Allon is seriously injured when he tries to save the lives of a woman and her young son before another bomb goes off. He not only isn’t able to do so, his own death is widely reported which changes the game plan for everyone.
Unlike the previous books in the series, this one has very little mention of his art restoration work. It does, however, include very current events and observations. Silva may have been prescient or just showing more understanding of the Middle East when he wrote “There was a faint glimmer of hope regarding the Iran nuclear negotiations.” As I write this, the talks are still going on and the deadline keeps getting extended.
Silva takes on the media when he wrote “Watching the news after an airstrike on Gaza, Gabriel wondered why CNN used so many British reporters: “The news always sounded more authoritative when delivered with a British accent, even if not a word of it was true.” He later notes “The politicians and the press always seemed to focus on the dead after a bombing, but the wounded were soon forgotten.
The American administration is on the table with this observation on the Middle East:
“Uzi, [the Department head] wasn’t the one who made the mess.” “No...The Americans did that. The president and his advisors were to quick to part with the Arab strong men. Now the president’s confronted with a world gone mad, and he doesn’t have a clue as to what to do about it.”
There is a succinct history of the effect of the IRA on Ireland when Silva writes
“The Republic of Ireland was once a land with almost no violent crime. Until the late 1960s Ireland’s national police force...numbered just seven thousand officers, and in Dublin there were only seven squad cars.” After the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Provisional IRA began robbing banks in the south. Local hoods followed their example and by 1970 Ireland “was a gangland where criminals and revolutionaries operated with impunity.”
And he has great command of words and irony when he wrote “Mortensen’s office was on the top floor. Its furnishings were solid, pale, and Danish So was Mortensen.”
THE ENGLISH SPY is fast-paced, flows smoothly and well-written. There are references to many of Allon’s previous experiences throughout the book but it is not necessary to have read them to appreciate this one. I did find the ending much too condensed; it was more like an epilogue.
Once again, unfortunately, the book has way too many unnecessarily short chapters which could easily be combined since they are about the same people in the same situation at basically the same time. I resent authors who treat their readers as if the reader had a very short attention span. (I wonder how Dickens would have handled them.) I always reduce my rating one star when I encounter them.
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LibraryThing member khiemstra631
Silva has written another sizzling spy story featuring Gabriel Allon. He reunites with his assassin friend Christopher Keller to search for an IRA terrorist Eamon Quinn who has started killing people again. The book begins with a boat explosion that kills an unhappy English princess. Of course, Eamon Quinn orchestrated the event. "The Office" and the MI6 work together to take out Quinn in scenes that hop around Europe. Another Silva masterpiece! And, those twins should be here by the time the next book rolls off the presses. Thank heavens! Poor, Chiara! She's had one of the longest pregnancies on record.… (more)
LibraryThing member shazjhb
He writes nice books. Interesting twist adding a different part of the world.
LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
The book opens when a skilled assassin sinks the yacht carrying an unnamed English former princess. Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon, is called in to help find the killer, and he recruits an old friend to help him. Together they track the bomber, who has ties to an ultra-violent faction of the IRA and various terrorist organizations. While the wait for Allon to finally ascend to the role of Chief of Israel’s top secret spy organization seems to be taking forever, the author is filling time with an interesting assignment for Gabriel, along with bringing back a favorite character. This time his target is Eamon Quinn, an IRA mercenary famed for his bomb-making skills, who is found responsible for the murder of the ex-wife of the future king of England. Partnered with Christopher Keller, ex-SAS, turned mercenary, now on track to become an agent of MI6, it soon becomes clear the former Princess’s death was engineered to lure Allon and Keller into pursuit in order to enact revenge for past sins.

This story contains a fascinating combination of plotting Russians, battling British, and even the Irish, still fighting an old religious war, and all those groups create a fine story. Double-crossings, old sorrows, loyalty, love, hate, all set in accurately described locations.

The novel’s end feels like it might be the conclusion of Allon’s career as a field operative, but certainly not the end of his story. I think readers can expect riveting things in the future involving the new head of '”The Office.” This story can be read as a stand-alone novel but the recurring characters are more enjoyable if the reader has read some of the prior books. No one does spy thrillers better than Daniel Silva and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. 4.5 Stars
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LibraryThing member chasidar
Daniel Silva does not disappoint
LibraryThing member repb
I am a loyal Silva fan and polished off his newest rather quickly. I love his writing style, descriptions and locations used in his novels. Gabriel Allon is obviously moving into another chapter of his Israeli secret service and about to become head honcho and will share the limelight with Keller, a British counter part who played his sidekick in this novel. Surprising to me, he works the F word in three or four times but overall, is very careful in his language and absence of lurid sex scenes. Although not objectionable, I find his tales really follow a formula and are very predictable. Still I love his work although I wish he would be more creative in his titles which are so very similar.… (more)
LibraryThing member labdaddy4
I simply do not get tired of the author's novels - every one of which has the same lead character. Silva's book are very well written, loaded with suspense, and faced paced. I find the increased role of Keller to be a big plus even though this book had very little regarding Allon's amazing team of operatives. Keep it up Daniel Silva - I will keep reading.… (more)
LibraryThing member buffalogr
Gabriel Alon's nemesis this time is an IRA bomb maker. One wonders why the Israeli's stuck their fist in that tar baby? It makes a moderately good story, however. There's a lot of back story needing explanation. Silva's understanding of regional politics makes the book better. After several Gabriel Alon novels, the characters seem predictable.… (more)
LibraryThing member purpledog
Spy thrillers are not my go to genre. Therefore, when I saw The English Spy by Daniel Silva in the $2 hard cover bargain bin I almost did not buy it. Alas, the front cover caught my attention and the back cover sealed the deal. Well worth $2 and more.

The story is so well crafted and I was drawn into the web of spies and revenge from the get go. Even though I have not read any of the other books in this series, I really got into the character of Gabriel Allon. I will definitely have to read more of the books in this series.

I highly recommend this to readers of espionage/spy themed books and for those who just like a good story, you need to read this too.
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LibraryThing member MichaelHodges
Hi-speed read, a great distraction, maintains formula over 16 books for sure, you will eventually really know Gabriel, once in retirement. You have got to love the "Cold War"
LibraryThing member librarygeek33
Had to read halfway through the book until we were let in on the details of the confusing plot. Finally, after about 500 pages, the tension mounted and then...and just ...ended.
LibraryThing member msaucier818
It is hard for me to objectively review the Gabriel Allon's books at this point. I really enjoy the characters and always love the storytelling in this series. This particular offering was not as good as others in the series. It did bring in many former side characters from the series and as always, it moved the back story of Gabriel and his family along as well. High recommended series.… (more)
LibraryThing member libgirl69
Great story, always well written with twists and turns that you didn't see coming and hoped wouldn't. It brings back another 'old friend' Keller, and this time another blast from the past in the guise of the IRA. Possibly this story has more resonance if you have a UK background, as it evoked memories from my childhood, when Gerry Adams wasn't allowed to have his voice heard on the news, and had to have a voice over.… (more)
LibraryThing member gypsysmom
I have read a few of this mystery series which star Gabriel Allon as the sleuth. This one was a little different in that Allon teams up with another person and they know exactly who they are looking for. The mystery lies in where he might be found and what he looks like after plastic surgery.
In the Caribbean an English princess and a few select friends have chartered a yacht for a pleasure cruise. In the middle of the night the ship explodes killing all aboard; the bombmaker, an ex-IRA man called Quinn, escaped on a life boat. Britain’s MI-6 determines Quinn is responsible and the head asks Allon to track him down. Allon is reluctant because he is about to head to Jerusalem with his very pregnant wife where he will become head of Israel’s secret service. However he is persuaded because Quinn was involved with a bombing attempt on his own life which killed his young son. Allon teams up with another man who has his own reason to want Quinn dead. Christopher Keller was with the SAS in Northern Ireland and he was captured by Quinn. He managed to escape but Quinn killed the woman he loved.
Quite a gripping tale that moves around the world.
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LibraryThing member decaturmamaof2
This was a good one! Some of its predecessors seemed a bit rote.
LibraryThing member kimkimkim
Once again I was sucked in from the first page. I find it so interesting how Daniel Silva is able to parse the real into fiction and I am always left wondering, despite the disclaimers, is it really fiction?!




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