Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: The English Girl by Daniel Silva

Once again, our hero-Mossad-super-agent Gabriel Allon is saving the world. Or at least in this case, saving the hide and political career of the present British Prime Minister.

The story begins with an odd kidnapping of a typical English girl while she is on vacation in Corsica. Yes, the kidnapping captures the imagination of the English population but they quickly move on as the world has a short attention span. It is at that point that we learn there is more to this kidnapping than meets the eye and in walks MI6. But lo and behold, the British spy agency is unable to save the day as it is a delicate and unusual situation, so "who ya gonna call?" Israel of course. (And you thought I was going to say Ghostbusters.)

Here comes some of our favorite factional characters to set the story into motion. We are treated to a short history lesson while on Israeli soil, well you can't talk the Middle East without historical context (not if you are an intelligent person anyway). We move deftly back to Corsica and learn about that little island enclave, complete with its brigands, superstitions and vendettas. But in true conspiratorial tradition,  it doesn't end there.

Gabriel, against common sense, ends up once again in Russia and this is when the story really gets good. Silva has a habit of interjecting real world politics into his novels. We become aware of some undercurrents that are happening in the world that most of us might miss.

Russia is a cruel nation. It always was. But this time it is not the communists or the Tsars that are ruining people's lives. Those brought up in the Communist system, the former elites of their society, who were suddenly thrust into a world that they had not prepared for when the Communist dynasty came to an end, have regrouped and have found a way to come out on top. They are evil and viscous in their pursuit of power. No one and nothing gets in their way.

The predators of the former KGB are alive, well and running Russia. We learn that Russia has returned to her former ways and has more spies in the west today than during the Cold War. But now she is interested in corporate secrets and compromising the western economy for her own financial glory not out of any political theory. Russia wants to rebuild her former Empire, and looks to accomplish that by holding western Europe hostage to her oil and gas dependency.

Russia, which has more oil in Siberia than Saudi Arabia, is poised to become a global oil superpower. She is stretching her tentacles out into the globe once again, in the hopes of destabilizing and ensuring her place as a master of the universe. Russia has resurfaced as our great enemy. The United States electorate, and especially the MSM, owes Mitt Romney an apology for belittling him when he pointed this out during the presidential debates.

As usual this is a fast paced thriller. It will keep you engaged. Twists and turns are the hallmark of many a good spy novel, and this one will keep you guessing til the end.


Just on a personal note: This entire novel begins simply because a politician with extreme power couldn't keep his pecker in his pants. While I know this is without a doubt more true to life than the exploits of one Gabriel Allon, I wonder if some politicos might take a look in the mirror and think twice about becoming blackmail bait, and endangering the nations they represent, merely because they want some illicit hoopdeedo. Just ask General Petreus what happens when your peccadilloes come to light. Guess in the real world, people really don't have a fictional superhero on speed dial that could save their hides afterall, even if they were the head of the CIA.


  1. Very nice review. I also agree with your personal note - the infidelity did little to enamor me to either the PM or Hart (Allon always rocks). I listened to an archived interview that Silva had with the Book report show and was rather surprised at how much he had to say about Snowden, and the current bill in congress revolving around the NSA's powers. I also didn't give much thought to the amount of Russian spies he claims are in the country until I heard the interview...I do hope we have a non-fictional hero on speed dial.

    1. Hi Benny,

      Thanks for stopping by. Being a big fan of Silva I find he is generally right on the mark when it comes to the politics he uses as catalyst for his books. That is actually the truly scarey part of these books.

      I do think we have non-fictional heroes in the USA, I would say those that put themselves in harms way to help others, police, firemen and definitely our armed services and especially the Navy Seals/Army Rangers. Also if you read The Outpost by Jake Tapper you find that yes indeed we have real life super heroes living among us.



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