13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edge of the seat exciting - another winner for Daniel Silva
I have read all the Gabriel Allon series, and this one must rank as one of the best. In it, our hero, art restorer, Israeli agent and assassin locks horns once again with Ivan Kharkov, the arms-dealing Russian bad guy, from Allon's previous outing, Moscow Rules. Because the story-line follows on from that one, I'd definitely recommend reading that one first, although...
Published on 17 Aug. 2009 by EllyBlue
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I'd expected
The twelfth commandment of the Israeli intelligence community is extremely simple: `We don't wave our guns around like gangsters and make idle threats. We draw our weapons in the field for one reason and one reason only...' And, in `The Defector', this results in a lot of bodies, generally Russian or their cronies, generally with an extremely neat hole drilled in their...
Published 11 months ago by Terry D
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edge of the seat exciting - another winner for Daniel Silva,
I have read all the Gabriel Allon series, and this one must rank as one of the best. In it, our hero, art restorer, Israeli agent and assassin locks horns once again with Ivan Kharkov, the arms-dealing Russian bad guy, from Allon's previous outing, Moscow Rules. Because the story-line follows on from that one, I'd definitely recommend reading that one first, although enough background is given here, if you do decide to jump straight in.
The disappearance of the defector of the title from a London street, triggers concern that Kharkov may be seeking revenge for his downfall in the previous book, and in particular for the safety of Gabriel Allon and his new wife Chiara who have been enjoying their honeymoon in a villa in Umbria. There is good old-fashioned spy-craft here, intricate plotting, much hopping between venues in the US and Europe, and a high body-count so maybe not for the squeamish. However, what makes this series of books stand out for me is the characters, Allon himself and Chiara, Ari Shamron and Gilah, Sarah Bancroft, Adrian Carter, and the rest of them. This is a thoroughly enjoyable series, and I do hope that Daniel Silva manages at least a few more outings for Gabriel and co, before he allows him to put down his gun for good.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silva Strikes Gold -- Again!,
This review is from: The Defector (Gabriel Allon Novels) (Hardcover)
In Daniel Silva's latest thriller featuring art restorer/Israeli spy-assassin, Gabriel Allon, The Defector picks up where Moscow Rules left off (but be advised that while it would be beneficial, it is not critical that you read Moscow Rules first). Without going into detail, the plot involves Allon having to return to Moscow when he learns that the former Russian intelligence officer who saved his life in Moscow has vanished without a trace. In typical Silva fashion, The Defector's plot is one of slow-building but non-stop tension and suspense that will keep your eyes glued to its pages. Further, Silva provides new dimensions into his already multidimensional, interesting cast of characters, as well as some very thought-provoking insights into the New Russia. While some reviewers have criticized The Defector for being too formulaic, thus making it somewhat "same-old, same old," my opinion is that Silva's successful formula, which he's used now in most of his twelve books, is kept fresh and interesting through the topical events and settings on which his books are based -- and this certainly is the case with The Defector. As a matter of fact, Silva's ability to continue to successfully execute his winning formula is at the heart of what makes me consider him to the "gold standard" of thriller writers. For me, there has never been a risk involved in reading a Silva book, with the only unknown being whether the book will be very good or excellent; and The Defector is an excellent read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "[Kharkov sold] weapons to both sides of a conflict, moderating the flow of arms to prolong the killing and maximize profits.",
This review is from: The Defector (Gabriel Allon Novels) (Hardcover)
(3.5 stars) Gabriel Allon, working on behalf of Israeli security, stopped a shipment of sophisticated Russian weapons destined for Al-Qaeda during Daniel Silva's previous novel, Moscow Rules. Now, six months later, Allon is enjoying some much needed time to himself. Recently married to his long-time love Chiara and doing the work he loves best, restoring fine artworks for the Vatican, he is living happily incognito in rural Italy, forever grateful to Col. Grigori Bulganov of Russia's FSB counterintelligence division for having saved his life, not once, but twice, during that previous traumatic adventure.
When Grigori Bulganov defects and then suddenly disappears from England amidst rumors that he was a double agent who has returned to Russia, Gabriel becomes alarmed. He believes that Bulganov has been kidnapped by arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, who wants revenge against everyone involved in the previous events, which culminated in Kharkov's humiliating loss of his wife and children. When Kharkov, in a brilliantly sick move, ratchets up the danger with a plan that will wreak the ultimate vengeance on Allon, Allon enters a new and even more sinister world of violence.
A trained assassin who executed six of the terrorists who killed Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, Allon is certainly no stranger to killing, but the body count in this novel is higher than I can ever remember in this series, with many of the assassinations being done by Gabriel Allon himself. Over thirty violent deaths occur during the novel as Allon tries to save his own world from disaster. One scene of torture involving Allon ("fire-boarding") is so stomach-turning--and, frankly, so sadistic--that it has permanently affected my view of Allon as a "hero." Silva does a terrific job of depicting the inner torments that drive Allon to such extremes, but while some may justify this torture scene in terms of the ends justifying the means, I found it so over-the-top that I could no longer excuse Allon's brutal responses, even considering his extreme stress.
Virtually all the characters in this novel were developed in the preceding novel, Moscow Rules, and Silva takes care to review important information about these characters during the first hundred pages of this novel. Readers new to Silva will probably be able to follow the action, but The Defector feels more like a sequel than a stand-alone novel. Silva succeeds in keeping the excitement high as he brings the novel to a conclusion, and, as he often does, he sets the scene for a future novel with Gabriel Allon. Two different directions are suggested--one involving the threats to Israel coming from Iran and one involving the continuing genocide in the Congo. How much they involve Allon is a question which only author Daniel Silva can answer. Personally, I think Allon could use a rest. n Mary Whipple
The Secret Servant
A Death in Vienna
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action packed,
I was on the point of buying 'Moscow Rules' to acquaint myself with Gabriel Allon, Israeli superagent when I received a copy of this book. The reason for the now uncompleted purchase was because I was informed this was the first book to feature him. Duff info for sure, as this is, in fact, the ninth. However, 'The Defector' does follow on with characters revealed in the earlier book and the author does spend time detailing them to bring the reader up to speed.
The action and storyline move from Umbria, Allon's chosen place of sanctuary to London, to Switzerland to the Russian forests as he goes after the murderous Russian oligarch, Ivan Kharkov, believed responsible for the disappearence of Grigori Bulganov, Allon's life-saver from 'Moscow Rules'.
The book is beautifully crafted, with twists and tuens a-plenty as this story of vengeance - and love - unfolds with breathtaking speed.
In a way, I'm glad I didn't start at book one (The Kill Artist) or even with 'Moscow Rules' as the wait to read this one would have been too long.
Gratifylingly, the book does seem to stand alone, so anyone new - like me - to Daniel Silva and his ageing antihero, Gabriel Allon - can go ahead and enjoy this book. There do seem to be a few loose ends so maybe we can expect book number ten. Meantime, it seems I've now some more reading to catch up on - another eight novels in the series to be exact.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I'd expected,
This review is from: The Defector (Gabriel Allon Book 9) (Kindle Edition)
The twelfth commandment of the Israeli intelligence community is extremely simple: `We don't wave our guns around like gangsters and make idle threats. We draw our weapons in the field for one reason and one reason only...' And, in `The Defector', this results in a lot of bodies, generally Russian or their cronies, generally with an extremely neat hole drilled in their heads.
Although `The Defector' is a self-contained thriller it's effectively a sequel to Moscow Rules with the same good guys and the same bad guys. Basically it's Gabriel Allon against the Russian gun-running thug (turned oligarch) Ivan Kharkov. And this time, Kharkov's wife plus her children, the defector himself and Chiara Zolli - Allon's beautiful Italian-born wife - are all heavily involved.
To me the book is a less than effective sequel to `Moscow Rules'; the storyline is weak in places whilst the level of violence - even accepting that Ivan Kharkov and his cohorts are extremely unpleasant and extremely vicious - frequently veers towards the gratuitous. The political element brings into play the highest levels of the American, British and Russian authorities but, unfortunately, is less than credible.
Fortunately the final section, involving a high degree of last-minute co-operation between Israeli intelligence and an elite group of Russian Alpha forces, helped restore my slightly dented faith in Daniel Silva.
And, before you start on `The Defector', it's a good idea to read `Moscow Rules'.
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and ruthless - that's Allon and that's Silva,
There's a kind of rage behind Daniel Silva's highly paced contemporary thrillers: rage against the enemies of Israel, who are mostly Palestinian and al-Qaeda terrorists plotting outrages against Israel and her Western allies. In MOSCOW RULES and now in this follow-up THE DEFECTOR Silva has turned his rage against the 'New Russia', the Russia of ex-KGB oligarchs like Ivan Kharkov who traffics arms to any corner of the world where there is war or unrest. Sometimes he supplies both sides in a conflict.
In the previous book Kharkov's plans were foiled by Israeli superspy Gabriel Allon, and his wife and children were 'liberated' to a new life in the US. Hot for vengeance Kharkov has Grigori Bulganov kidnapped, the defector who helped Allon defeat him; Bulganov is plucked off the streets of what Silva calls "the Russian city sometimes referred to as London" (it seems to be more than just our football clubs that are in thrall to the Russian zillionaires!). Then, in a more daring raid, Allon's wife Chiara is abducted from their villa in Umbria. 'The Office' (the name Silva uses for Mossad) sanctions a rescue; as usual the CIA and MI5 are roped in.
His political and propaganda agenda notwithstanding, Silva writes rattling good thrillers. This is up there with his best, galloping from Tel Aviv and London to Washington and Moscow and places in between. There's a nail-chewing climax in a snowbound Russian dacha, followed by a chilling 'epilogue' designed to hammer home the message that the Israeli secret service is not only the world's smartest but also the most ruthless. "Utterly smart and totally ruthless" just about describes the kind of writer Daniel Silva is.
[Reviewer is the author of SHAIKH-DOWN]
4.0 out of 5 stars An Intelligent & Hard Nosed Thriller,
My review of Daniel Silva's previous novel, Moscow Rules, criticised it for lacking a decent, satisfying ending. 'The Defector' provides that ending; although how satisfying it is remains slightly open to question.
Picking up a few months after events in Moscow Rules (which you should definitely read before tackling The Defector), the book opens with the apparent 'redefection' back to Russia from London of Gregori Bulganov, the SVR colonel who aided Gabriel Allon's escape at the end of the previous novel. That event is the catalyst that propels Gabriel back into action and kicks off a plot that wraps up the many loose threads left dangling at the end of Moscow Rules.
For those who haven't tackled a Silva novel before, or at least not one featuring Gabriel Allon, I would recommend going back and starting with The Kill Artist. Those familiar with Silva's previous novels will find that The Defector has the author's usual mix of rapid paced, spare prose, accurate factual detail, solid characterisation and up-to-the-minute plotting. It helps that most of the characters on display have appeared in at least one or more of Silva's previous novels, giving both familiarity and some additional depth to even minor players. Equally the set up, with Allon and team going up against Russian oligarch Ivan Kharkov once more, is also a familiar one, which removes the need to spend time establishing the background to the plot and as a consequence The Defector hits the ground running and doesn't stop.
The pace of the book doesn't detract from the intelligence of Silva's writing. This is a smart thriller that avoids cliches or easy deus ex machina resolutions. None of the characters are impervious supermen, even if they are well trained professionals, and things go wrong as much as they go right. This lends events an air of realism that is sometimes lacking from other books in this genre.
The Defector isn't the perfect espionage thriller however. As with Moscow Rules a bravura first two third is followed by a less satisfying final act. After a great buildup as Gabriel and his team use every method at their disposal (some of them pretty gruesome and questionable) to achieve their aims, all with the clock ticking, lives on the line and tesnsion building, the big final showdown ends up being a bit of a damp squib. It is possibly a more realistic conclusion than Gabriel and friends achieving the perfect victory at the first attempt would have been, but its not very emotionally satisfying, even if everyone get's their deserved comeuppance in the end.
I'm also not a big fan of Silva's attempts to provide insight into his characters' emotions. This is the area where his writing is weakest as it drifts too often into the realms of overwrought 'purple prose', cod-psychology and heavy handed metaphor. When Chiara started having dream sequences about lost children I felt the need to skip forward and after numerous books I understand that Gabriel is supposed to be a tortured, romantic hero; I don't need constant recaps of past events in Vienna or repeated emotionally charged visits to his crippled ex-wife to get this point.
Still, none of these minor issues are enough to truly detract from the book's overall appeal. Some may find some of the more brutal action distasteful and I would not recommend the book to anyone who is squeamish or easily offended by scenes of torture, but for everyone else this is a great contemporary thriller that wraps up yet another chapter in the life of Gabriel Allon. Role on his next adventure, Rembrandt affair, the
5.0 out of 5 stars Payback Time in a Chilling Sequel to Moscow Rules,
"Since you would do a thing like this, I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease." -- Judges 15:7
Where does revenge lead? That's the painful question posed by Daniel Silva's latest novel about Israel's most dangerous man, Gabriel Allon. In Moscow Rules, arms dealer and evil doer Ivan Kharkov loses his children, a lot of money, and his pride. There are bound to be consequences, but Kharkov is a subtle snake.
As the book opens, defector Grigori Bulganov is on his way to a chess tournament he's expected to win when he disappears from the streets of London. The British are convinced he's a double agent and is headed home to Moscow. The news doesn't get to Gabriel for some time. Ordered to leave it alone, Gabriel is convinced that his Moscow savior needs saving and heads for London to do his own investigation. One thing leads to another and Gabriel soon realizes that Ivan Kharkov has made revenge personal.
While the general outline of the plot is quite predictable, the menace being so personal makes the book much more appealing than Mr. Silva's plot formula normally would allow. You'll feel Gabriel's pain more intensely than you normally relate to a hero in a thriller. The book continues to explore Mr. Silva's theme of how evil destroys even those who fight it in a convincing way. I was deeply impressed by the portrayal of evil and its consequences.
At the same time, Mr. Silva keeps a few surprises for us that will make your eyes open wide with shock. No matter how late you stay up to finish the book (I did at 2:03 a.m.), you'll be wide awake when you do.
There's a continuing warning about the risks of dealing with the ex-KGB men who lead Russia that's underlined by a final note on how dangerous it is to be a journalist in the new Russia. It's chilling to think about.
If you like your stories to be bloodless and painless, this won't be the book for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!,
Unless I'd reviewed all the books one by one, it would be difficult to say anything different about the individual books - they're all brilliant!
I've read all the Gabriel Allon books and can only hope there are quite a few more to come without losing the continued enjoyment of the books. I see there is another new one due out this summer (2010) The Rembrandt Affair ...sounds very promising!
His being an accomplished artist and restorer is a bonus as I am a painter - I'd love to see more of Julian Isherwood and the art dealers in that familiar part of London ..just adds a little extra for art lovers and those involved with art in general.
The Defector, and the previous linked book: Moscow Rules, is just as brilliant - if not better - than all the others.
I've been fortunate to read all the books in the correct order - initially more by luck than anything else. A full list of Silva's books in chronological order can be found on his website.
There's only one of his books that I haven't yet read: The Marching Season, but I have it and will indeed read it. Another book not of the Allon series is The Unlikely Spy, and I found it totally different to all Mr Silva's other books, yet thoroughly enjoyable. Alfred Vicary, the main character, is delightful.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and so so predictable,
Many years ago Daniel Silva was a very promising new talent and his first half dozen books endorsed that. But since then his recent books are nothing more than the writing equivalent of painting by numbers.
I don't think I have ever come across more predictable plots than those of Mr Silva.
The books tend to start well with interesting settings this time it's a very accurate description of Maida Vale, London.
From thereon this is now what happens in all the Gabriel Allon books.
Some nasty event occurs, Gabriel Allon is persuaded to do one last job (yet again). He assembles his usual immortal, boring team who then instigate at least one abduction. All goes well initially until Gabriel gets captured and beaten up before escaping. He then miraculously recovers to kill all the bad guys.
Along the way we have to put up with full bios of the repetitive inane characters who appear in every book even though they have all been described several times before.
Just to add more ridicule to the now ludicrous books that Mr Silva writes all or some of The POPE, The President of the USA and the UK Prime Minister either help out or meet our super hero.
Getting back to this book having run out of ideas on Middle East Terroism Mr Silva has tried to do at least one thing differently and changed the nationality of the bad guys who are now Russians instead of Arabs for the 2nd book running.
This character has well and truly run out of steam and it's a shame Mr Silva doesn't have the courage or is it talent to write a non Gabriel Allon novel.
In hindsight his first 3 books are probably his best and from memory none featured the ludicrous Allon and his immortal mentor who despite retiring years ago still effectively runs Israeli intelligence at the tender age of 80+.
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