Top critical review
Feels like it was written on autopilot
on 3 February 2016
The Israeli embassy in Rome is attacked by a car bomber. It becomes apparent that the attack was part of a wider conspiracy to target Gabriel Allon, who has to track down the terrorists before they can track him down.
This is a perfectly readable thriller but maybe because I read it straight after "A Death in Vienna" I felt irritated by how lazy the writing is.
For example, in A Death in Vienna this is how Gabriel Allon is described:
"(His) gait was smooth and seemingly without effort. The slight outward bend to his legs suggested speed and surefootedness. The face was long and narrow at the chin, with a slender nose that looked as if it had been carved from wood. The cheekbones were wide, and there was a hint of the Russian steppes in the restless green eyes. The black hair was cropped short and shot with grey at the temples."
This is how he is described in "Prince of Fire":
"His walk was smooth and seemingly without wffort, and there was a slight outward bend to his legs that Isherwood always associated with men who could run very fast or were good at football...The face came into focus - long, high at the forehead, narrow at the chin. The nose looked at though it had been carved from wood, the cheekbones were wide and prominent, and there was a hint of the Russian steppes in the green, restless eyes. The black hair was cropped short and very grey at the temples."
This is but one example of many elements that feel completely recycled from previous books. The plot is also extremely pro-Israeli and anti-Arab, to the point that starts to feel less like a thriller and more like a lecture.
I do like this series but I think the moral is not to read them too close to one another!