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by Daniel Silva
Harper, July 2017
544 pages
ISBN: 0062354345

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

HOUSE OF SPIES, Daniel Silva's 17th novel featuring Israeli spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon, continues where Silva's previous novel THE BLACK WIDOW left off. The terrorist mastermind known only as Saladin devised and orchestrated the horrific attacks in this earlier work. Now Gabriel and his team must find Saladin and eliminate him before he can wreak further carnage.

As this current book opens, terrorists target London in a series of carefully staged attacks. As with his previous works, Silva has an uncanny ability to focus on what is happening at the moment. England, and specifically London, has actually been targeted this year. Silva is not prescient, but he is a writer who steeps himself in current world situations. With his background as a reporter, he is able to delve deeply into events and understand their genesis and their implications. This ability allows him to write fiction that not only mirrors current events but also seems to anticipate them.

Gabriel believes that Saladin is behind the slaughter described in the book. He must find a way to track down this terrorist, but first he must convince the British and American secret services to allow the Israelis to control the operation. When he accomplishes this, he then goes after various lower level operatives to find out the name of the person who is dealing directly with Saladin. He discovers that this person is a wealthy French entrepreneur named Jean-Luc Martel. Martel is a criminal, involved with international drug dealing, but he is not just smuggling drugs. He also has connections to a terrorist network. By concocting a complicated scenario that includes renting a villa and having Israeli spies pretend to be French playboys and loose women, Gabriel's team is able to use Martel's girlfriend Olivia Watson to blackmail Martel.

One of the important connections that Gabriel makes in this book is how organized crime, specifically large-scale drug dealing, is linked to terrorism. Through these crime networks, terrorists are able to purchase and move weapons and fund their groups. In his Afterword, Silva makes the point that this is happening as well in the real world.

Many of the characters we have met before are important to this book, from art-dealer Julian Isherwood to the quirky and talented Israeli spy team members. Christopher Keller, whom we encountered in a previous works, has given up his being a paid assassin in order to help the British government. Gabriel Allon is of course the featured character. Dedicated readers have followed him through many years of secret investigations and operations, often filled with violence and death. He has experienced personal loss and trauma. The current book does not attempt to fill in all the gaps in his story, merely making references to past events. The new reader must go back to previous books to discover the details.

As with other Gabriel Allon novels, HOUSE OF SPIES is a suspenseful tale. The stakes are high and the possibility of failure is great. Is Gabriel too cautious? Are the Americans too rash? Is Martel somehow warning Saladin? Each moment is filled with decisions and the wrong one could mean death. Once again, Daniel Silva has created a riveting thriller.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, July 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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