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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good novel in the series...
Okay, here's the thing from a reviewer's viewpoint. You would probably not be reading the reviews of Daniel Silva's newest book in his Gabriel Allon spy series if you weren't already familiar with his writing. Silva's written 13 or so novels in the series and I think I've read most of them. And this one, "Portrait of a Spy" is a very good Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon book...
Published on 19 July 2011 by Jill Meyer

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars GABRIEL ALLON R.I.P. ASAP Please
Having read all Silva's previous books (don't know why must be hoping he could still write a good story) I have to say it is now time to retire the Gabriel Allon character and preferably kill him off.

As usual this book starts off very well but soon becomes more ludicrous and even boring by the chapter. How many more times is Allon going to assemble his same...
Published 13 months ago by Nightman


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars GABRIEL ALLON R.I.P. ASAP Please, 26 July 2013
By 
Nightman (St Albans UK) - See all my reviews
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Having read all Silva's previous books (don't know why must be hoping he could still write a good story) I have to say it is now time to retire the Gabriel Allon character and preferably kill him off.

As usual this book starts off very well but soon becomes more ludicrous and even boring by the chapter. How many more times is Allon going to assemble his same boring trusted team from the Mossad all of whom are immortal.

Recruiting the daughter of one of the most evil terrorists to track down some other terrorists by following the money is fairly stupid and implausible but made worse by in this instance an over complicated plot, weird researched locations and ludicrous middle eastern bad guys.

I cannot imagine many intelligent people reading any further books involving Gabriel Allon who is on first terms with the UK Prime Minister, the US President and the Pope.
It's nothing short of laughable, at least this book doesn't involve his buddies in the Vatican but I wouldn't be surprised if another Vatican based story came along soon.

Daniel Silva has the skills to write excellent books as illustrated by the first 6 or 7 books he wrote (including 2 non Allon stories) so why does he waste his talent with these generic, ridiculous and repetitive Allon stories ?

Answer it's easy work and easy money.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good novel in the series..., 19 July 2011
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
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Okay, here's the thing from a reviewer's viewpoint. You would probably not be reading the reviews of Daniel Silva's newest book in his Gabriel Allon spy series if you weren't already familiar with his writing. Silva's written 13 or so novels in the series and I think I've read most of them. And this one, "Portrait of a Spy" is a very good Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon book. But it is similar to all the others I've read. And for me, a reviewer, it's a difficult book to review for that reason.

Daniel Silva is deeply concerned with the Middle East and the problems with radical Islamism that have risen from there in the last 60 years or so. Silva uses his books - characters and plots - to speak intelligently about those problems and the repercussions - terrorist bombings in both the Middle East countries and in Europe. Silva seems to publish a new book in the series every July. Now, this year and this book, 2011 and "Portrait of a Spy", pose a fairly tricky problem for Daniel Silva. How much of the "Arab Spring" - which actually began in mid-December, 2010 - does he include in his story? And does he include the assassination of Bin Ladin, which occurred fairly close to the time of publication? I could tell that he makes reference to Bin Ladin's death in a line towards the end where the text could still be changed in final proofs. The "Arab Spring" is mentioned towards the end. That's the problem he may have faced with the plot. But it's with the characters he's facing the most problems.

Gabriel Allon has not changed much in the 15 or so years he's been the subject of Daniel Silva's pen. And Chiara, his younger Italian wife is still gorgeous. They are still trying to retire to the English countryside and really go back to art restoration. But the Mossad is still trying to drag Gabriel back in to work on missions for them. Shomrom is still the aging lion of King Saul Boulevard, still hunting down the same Islamic terrorists. Other peripheral characters like English art dealers are still doing their selling and Israeli, British, and American agents are still doing their spycraft. In effect, not much has changed in the lives of Gabriel Allon and his cast of characters. I would love to see some further character development by Silva in next year's Allon book. Give him a kid - who is not killed in a terrorist attack. Let Chiara age a little and maybe become less gorgeous. Give her a haircut. Finally kill off Shomron, who seems to be a pain in everyone's side in Israeli intelligence.

So, why am I giving "Portrait" five stars, even with my silly complaints and comments? Because, it is a very good Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon book. It gives the reader - who is usually well-acquainted with the characters and on-going plot line - another good read. And that's really the reason for a writer to write a review and for a reader to read one.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Time To Retire Gabriel Allon?, 18 Dec 2011
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Portrait of a Spy (Kindle Edition)
It brings me no pleasure to ask the question, but having finished Daniel Silva's latest novel 'Portrait Of A Spy' I have to seriously wonder whether its time to finally retire Israeli agent-cum-art restorer Gabriel Allon?

Its not that there is anything particularly wrong with Portrait Of A Spy. Its up to Silva's usual high standard when it comes to prose, characterisation, precision plotting and ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter. Its exciting, dramatic, thrilling and emotional in all the right places. The problem, and this is the reason that I've only awarded it three stars, is that it really nothing more than a rehash of several of Silva's previous Gabriel Allon novels. Yes the settings may change and along with them some incidental details, but the basic plot of recruiting an innocent outsider to infiltrate a terrorist organisation is one that Silva has used on at least two previous occasions. How that plot plays out also closely matches how those previous stories unfolded. The result is a book that is reassuringly familiar but also very predictable. At times I felt as if I was rereading either The Messenger or The Rembrandt Affair.

At the heart of the problem is the character of Gabriel Allon himself. In his earlier adventures part of the pleasure was seeing him grow as a character and allow himself to become more human. For the past few books however, he has remained frozen in aspic, his behaviour, personal attitudes and relationships unchanging. He has, in effect, become a rather dull and predictable and at the same time so have the books.

Whilst I don't question Silva's skills as a writer I feel that the time has come to either shake up Allon's life greatly or to retire him from front line duty and give another character a chance to shine. Personally I would prefer the latter. It would not be too difficult to push Gabriel back into the role of elder statesman currently taken by Shamron and allow a younger operative to take on the heavy lifting; one from a very different cultural and personal background to Gabriel's. That would hopefully allow Silva to tackle plots which are less repetitious.

Unless he does so I fear that Silva's novels will become increasingly less compelling, which would be a shame. He remains one of the most intelligent writers of political and espionage thrillers on the market, and if you haven't read any of his earlier novels I would seriously recommend seeking them out. I just hope he also realises that his novels have become stuck in something of a cul-de-sac plot-wise and something radical needs to be done to get them out of it
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars International espionage, and echoes of the Arab Spring, 27 April 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are about a dozen books in the Gabriel Allon series, so if you start with this one then you'll be meeting lots of very well established characters with plenty of back story. That might be a little confusing or frustrating - particularly when so many key players have history, and Silva doesn't go into great depths of explanation about each of them. The motivation of some of the protagonists may seem obscure and there's a fair barrage of names to remember and allocate to the correct espionage agency - I suspect that to really enjoy `Portrait of a Spy' to the full then it would help to have read some of Silva's earlier books.
However, this modern spy story does stand on its own two feet. Allon is an older Mossad agent who is trying to retire into his lifelong hobby of art restoration. He's dragged back into action following a series of city centre bombings by religious fundamentalists - and from there we are treated to a dense, carefully choreographed depiction of how a worldwide counter-terrorist strategy might be planned and executed. The story gallops across the globe and involves all the major security agencies; it deals with developing an asset and then following the threads to neutralise extremist groups. And Gabriel Allon's fundamental nature is at the heart of the story: he is an assassin who kills to safeguard the state and the people of Israel. This throws up plenty of potential conflict between the characters, particularly when a new POTUS wants to change the narrative...
`Portrait of a Spy' is unwieldy in places. It suffers from great chunks of background exposition where we're briefed on the bad guys and which groups they have links with, yadda yadda. Some moments stretch credulity (restoring an Old Master artwork always features in Allon's operations: every woman is beautiful, noble, determined: all the Mossad agents are righteous warriors suffering a personal wrong). Parts of the plot and the ending have appeared in other novels in this series. But some of that comfortable repetition is why we enjoy long-running series: the scenes where the gang gets back together and swings into action are very rewarding.

I probably prefer the very early Allon stories, when he was less of a global superstar and more of a low-key assassin. But `Portrait of a Spy' is an intriguing, attention-grabbing read - one which builds upon the basis of real life terror networks and how the security services might possibly tackle them. I can forgive Silva's sketchy two-dimensional characters (and even Allon meeting the President!) for the overall enjoyment of a well-polished, intelligent spy series.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but unconvincing, 23 Mar 2013
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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The author has a decent writing style and the dialogue generally works. The plot though nothing special is just about plausible.

Ultimately though I just found it to be too ludicrous. The hero is just too good to be true. It almost sounds like a parody. The other `good characters' tend to be ridiculously accomplished. Many people will roll their eyes at the simplistic world view and some might find it to be genuinely offensive.

The book is too long as well. It did get a little repetitive. I would probably rate this two and a half stars if I could, but as I mostly liked the writing style I will give it three stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A spy too far, 28 Dec 2012
By 
A. M. Campbell (northern ireland) - See all my reviews
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I have read and enjoyed all the Gabriel Allon books, but this one has lain unfinished for over a month. It must be increasingly difficult to inject new life each time into the formula, and maybe it's starting to show. Even so, I was never convinced by the central character and the actions she is persuaded to take.Maybe I need to finish the book to make a fair judgement. I am also puzzled by the lack of reference to a Peace Envoy in the form of an heroic ex-British Prime Minister, who must surely play a central part in solving problems in the Middle East. But I suppose even Daniel Silva couldn't make him up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars International espionage, and echoes of the Arab Spring, 20 Dec 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
There are about a dozen books in the Gabriel Allon series, so if you start with this one then you'll be meeting lots of very well established characters with plenty of back story. That might be a little confusing or frustrating - particularly when so many key players have history, and Silva doesn't go into great depths of explanation about each of them. The motivation of some of the protagonists may seem obscure and there's a fair barrage of names to remember and allocate to the correct espionage agency - I suspect that to really enjoy 'Portrait of a Spy' to the full then it would help to have read some of Silva's earlier books.
However, this modern spy story does stand on its own two feet. Allon is an older Mossad agent who is trying to retire into his lifelong hobby of art restoration. He's dragged back into action following a series of city centre bombings by religious fundamentalists - and from there we are treated to a dense, carefully choreographed depiction of how a worldwide counter-terrorist strategy might be planned and executed. The story gallops across the globe and involves all the major security agencies; it deals with developing an asset and then following the threads to neutralise extremist groups. And Gabriel Allon's fundamental nature is at the heart of the story: he is an assassin who kills to safeguard the state and the people of Israel. This throws up plenty of potential conflict between the characters, particularly when a new POTUS wants to change the narrative...
'Portrait of a Spy' is unwieldy in places. It suffers from great chunks of background exposition where we're briefed on the bad guys and which groups they have links with, yadda yadda. Some moments stretch credulity (restoring an Old Master artwork always features in Allon's operations: every woman is beautiful, noble, determined: all the Mossad agents are righteous warriors suffering a personal wrong). Parts of the plot and the ending have appeared in other novels in this series. But some of that comfortable repetition is why we enjoy long-running series: the scenes where the gang gets back together and swings into action are very rewarding.

I probably prefer the very early Allon stories, when he was less of a global superstar and more of a low-key assassin. But 'Portrait of a Spy' is an intriguing, attention-grabbing read - one which builds upon the basis of real life terror networks and how the security services might possibly tackle them. I can forgive Silva's sketchy two-dimensional characters (and even Allon meeting the President!) for the overall enjoyment of a well-polished, intelligent spy series.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars International espionage, and echoes of the Arab Spring, 4 Nov 2012
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
There are about a dozen books in the Gabriel Allon series, so if you start with this one then you'll be meeting lots of very well established characters with plenty of back story. That might be a little confusing or frustrating - particularly when so many key players have history, and Silva doesn't go into great depths of explanation about each of them. The motivation of some of the protagonists may seem obscure and there's a fair barrage of names to remember and allocate to the correct espionage agency - I suspect that to really enjoy `Portrait of a Spy' to the full then it would help to have read some of Silva's earlier books.
However, this modern spy story does stand on its own two feet. Allon is an older Mossad agent who is trying to retire into his lifelong hobby of art restoration. He's dragged back into action following a series of city centre bombings by religious fundamentalists - and from there we are treated to a dense, carefully choreographed depiction of how a worldwide counter-terrorist strategy might be planned and executed. The story gallops across the globe and involves all the major security agencies; it deals with developing an asset and then following the threads to neutralise extremist groups. And Gabriel Allon's fundamental nature is at the heart of the story: he is an assassin who kills to safeguard the state and the people of Israel. This throws up plenty of potential conflict between the characters, particularly when a new POTUS wants to change the narrative...
`Portrait of a Spy' is unwieldy in places. It suffers from great chunks of background exposition where we're briefed on the bad guys and which groups they have links with, yadda yadda. Some moments stretch credulity (restoring an Old Master artwork always features in Allon's operations: every woman is beautiful, noble, determined: all the Mossad agents are righteous warriors suffering a personal wrong). Parts of the plot and the ending have appeared in other novels in this series. But some of that comfortable repetition is why we enjoy long-running series: the scenes where the gang gets back together and swings into action are very rewarding.

I probably prefer the very early Allon stories, when he was less of a global superstar and more of a low-key assassin. But `Portrait of a Spy' is an intriguing, attention-grabbing read - one which builds upon the basis of real life terror networks and how the security services might possibly tackle them. I can forgive Silva's sketchy two-dimensional characters (and even Allon meeting the President!) for the overall enjoyment of a well-polished, intelligent spy series.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Put Down, 31 July 2012
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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Gabriel Allon has apparently been around for a while as this is the 11th book he has starred in. However, it is the first that I have read. Whereas this would be a huge disadvantage with some authors and some books, there were not the constant references to his previous exploits, which would have made this difficult to read on a standalone basis.

Gabriel is a former member of the Israeli Security Service who has retired to live in Cornwall. However, events conspire to bring him back into the fold and he becomes involved in an interesting plot which also involves the CIA and the pursuit of some particularly threatening and determined jihadists. The plot is bang up to date and is post both the Arab Spring and the death of Bin Laden so it has a very contemporary feel about it.

In many ways this book does all the right things for a spy thriller. The plot is pacey, but in a measured sort of way so the action does not become ridiculously frenetic. Fiction is woven into fact which gives the whole story credibility. Gabriel Allon is an interesting character, quite complex and definitely independently minded who it is quite easy to identify with. The book is not short, but does not suffer from padding with little relevance to the plot, which some authors feel obliged to add in, so that this story remains focused throughout.

This is a book which I read through very quickly. I did find it to be the archetypal page turner. The chapters are relatively short which keeps the reader engaged. Certainly after reading this one I do plan to get hold of Daniel Silva's other Gabriel Allon books as it was a very enjoyable read and one I would unreservedly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but so similar to his previous books, 14 July 2012
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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The characters and scheme are the same as the last X number books in this series. We have host of Islamic terrorists, and a host of supporting characters namely Ari Shamron, Gabrel, Adrian Carter, and not least Seymour.

The mission, to find someone new and unsuspecting, and for them to go undercover so the bad guys are both fooled and flushed out into the open. Gabroiel promises the new mole complete protection, and brings in the same team as support. Unfortunately this ingenious plan goes wrong, and Gabriel has to save the day.

Yes this yarn has entertainment value, but the formula seems to be getting rather worn, to say the least.
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Portrait of a Spy
Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva (Mass Market Paperback - Mar 2012)
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