Gabriel Allon, Israel's answer to Jason Bourne,
This review is from: Portrait of a Spy (Gabriel Allon 11) (Paperback)
Terrorists carry out city-centre bombings in Paris, Copenhagen and London in a hideous 'celebration' of 9/11. After narrowly failing to thwart the London outrage, Israeli superspy Gabriel Allon teams up with British and American intelligence services to lead the fightback. In a plot with faint echoes of John Le Carre's THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1983), they recruit a female 'outsider' to penetrate the terror network. This woman, Nadia al-Bakari, a Saudi billionaire, is one of the author's most beguiling characters. She and the man she is to lead them to, the new heir to the 'throne' of Osama bin Laden, are both developed from threads in previous novels.
Silva also develops a theme he has explored before, tracing almost all Islamic terrorism to the hardline Wahhabi preachers in Saudi Arabia. In a postscript he reminds us that fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. He quotes a memorandum from Hilary Clinton in 2010 which concluded that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant funding to Sunni terrorists worldwide." The principal CIA character in this novel believes that the force they face "seeks to weaken or even destroy the West through acts of indiscriminate violence." You, like me, presumably get regular emails that sing from this same hymn-sheet. We continue to live in scary times - scary for moderate Muslims as well as for the rest of us.
PORTRAIT OF A SPY has key scenes set in Dubai's seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel. The nerve-wracking finale takes place in Rub' al Khali, the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia's vast desert. Like other episodes in this now eleven-book series, this is as much about global politics as it is about Jason Bourne-style heroics. The background has been painstakingly researched. Silva is a writer of quality, with some pleasing turns of phrase: an art auction at Christie's in New York is "a sea of diamonds, silk, ego and collagen."
I have not enjoyed a thriller as much as this since - since the last Gabriel Allon story! Daniel Silva stands head and shoulders above the competition.
[Reviewer is the author of SHAIKH-DOWN]