7.23.2013

The English Girl, by Daniel Silva

The English Girl
The English Girl is the 13th book in Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series. The previous book in the series, The Fallen Angel, and this book have been much better than the doldrums that preceded them. For a while, the plots suffered from to much formula and not enough evolution of the characters. This book is another step in the right direction, towards a new stage in Allon's life.

Many, many moons ago, Allon began his life in Israel's intelligence community by serving as an assassin in Operation Wrath of God. Being an assassin changed him, and destroyed his ability to create original art. So, Gabriel apprenticed himself to the best art restorers he could find. His former boss, Ari Shamron, kept pulling him back in. I suppose there still is a bit of formula in that all of the books open with Shamron twisting Gabriel's arm until he takes on another job.

In The English Girl, the job is to find the missing mistress of the British Prime Minister. Madeline has good missing on Corsica and the French police are stumped. Gabriel uses his less than official connections with a Corsican don who runs assassins all over Europe. The trail leads across France and into Russia. What started as a simple blackmailing job turns into a false flag operation* run by a Russian oil company run almost entirely by ex-KGB men.

For the first part of the book, Gabriel works with a single partner, one of the Corsican don's best men. But when things go wrong and Gabriel decides to destroy KGB Oil & Gas, as the company is known, he needs the assistance of Mossad. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he's no longer an active agent. Shamron agrees to get him the help he needs, if Gabriel agrees to be the next chief of Mossad. Shamron has been planning this for years and Gabriel has always resisted.

I like that Silva has pushed his character towards that new step. It keeps the series from falling into a formulaic rut. I suspect that a lot of other authors of long run series might be tempted towards timidity. After all, they have something that works. Why change it? But you run the risk of boring the readers who've been following said series since the beginning. Characters have to grow in order to remain interesting. I'm very curious to see what happens when Gabriel takes the reins of Mossad and has to worry about keeping Israel and its people safe.

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* False flag operations, as depicted by Silva, is an operation that appears to be run by one group but is actually run by another. The group that appears to be in charge serves as a smoke screen for the second.

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