HOUSE OF SPIES by Daniel Silva

Daniel Silva’s latest book in the brilliant Gabriel Allon series takes up where “The Black Widow” left off, though you absolutely do not have to have read the former to enjoy the later.

Gabriel, the thoroughly likeable, decent, honourable man who heads up the Israeli Secret Service has unfinished business with one of the most dangerous men on the planet, Saladin, whose network of terror spreads death and destruction all over the world.  The novel opens with a vicious, well planned attack on London, and from there it is a matter of racing against time to find Saladin before he strikes again.

Because strike he will.

With painstaking investigation, one loose thread in Saladin’s careful plot is discovered, unpicked and the combined brains and resources of the French, British, American and Israeli intelligence communities work frantically to locate the man who dispenses death with impunity.

What is striking about this book is its bang-up-to-date-ness.

At times, you wonder if Mr, Silva isn’t writing about actual events, so contemporary and realistic are they.

It is a sad reflection of our times that the line between fact and fiction is so impermeable, when it comes to the war on terror.

The realistic contemporary plot makes this book even more nail-biting than Mr. Silva’s earlier books, each one of which is a study in keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Though there are many familiar characters in “House of Spies” there is less personal, family detail in this book, less of the daily life of Gabriel and Chiara in Jerusalem that we have come to enjoy in the books.  The focus is solidly on Gabriel and his team, as they plot and plan their way through drug dealers and arms dealers and terrorists in a chase that takes us through Marseilles, Casablanca, and London.

A gripping read, “House of Spies” seems more intense and a shade darker than some of the earlier books.

There is no art, there is very little food and wine, almost as though the increased threat level from the likes of Saladin does not allow for relaxation.

We meet new characters in this book who will play pivotal roles – Jean-Luc Martel and his partner Olivia Watson.  The world of the uber rich, living a life of self-indulgent luxury on the French Riviera is laid bare for us, as the couple is drawn into the complicated trap being laid to locate the mysterious, shadowy Saladin.

Well-written, with twists and turns right up until the final page, this is a cracker of a read.  It is contemporary, it is disturbingly realistic and it makes the reader think about the state of the world we live in.

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