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The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon Novels) (edition 2008)

by Daniel Silva

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Member:twitham
Title:The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon Novels)
Authors:Daniel Silva
Info:Signet (2008), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:novel, fiction, thriller, US, Europe, Islam, Israel

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The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva

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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Quite a guilty pleasure, these Gabrielle Allon books. Israeli James Bond with a conscience, no frivolous sex and always ready to sacrifice himself. You can guess who the bad guys are.
Anyway, after four books, I've figured Silva out. For this book, I skipped the setup chapters, much of which is a recounting of previous books or re-introduction of characters anyway, and went straight to where the action gets going. And when I've had as much as I can take, I quit before the wrap-up ... until the next Allon book on my reading list. ( )
  ricaustria | Apr 5, 2013 |
A disadvantage of series novels is the amount of exposition some authors feel they need to include to explain relationships and actions from past stories that affect the current book. The clunky technique of dropping exposition into dialogue and the plot slows things down. Maybe there’s no other way, unless you exclude it and trust the reader to deduce a few more things on their own. The Secret Servant is front-loaded with a ton of inelegant exposition, and it detracts from the story.

Another problem is that I spent the first quarter of the book being unconvinced and thinking “that wouldn’t happen” or “they wouldn’t do or say that.” I’ve read Silva’s books in the past and don’t remember if this is just his style. So after I fought my way through those distractions, the plot picked up and became readable.

Silva obviously does his research and pays attention to the details and methods of the intelligence and governmental organizations he writes about, and when he gets to the action scenes, he does them well. But trying to flesh out the life of his recurring character, Gabriel Allon, while telling a detailed and nuanced story, seems like a kind of torture in itself and doesn’t serve the story within the novel. ( )
  Hagelstein | Dec 30, 2012 |
Many thanx to Donna828 for turning me on to Daniel Silva! I love Gabriel Allon! He's a hero, but he's real enough to get his butt kicked in the process. I liked him in The Messenger, but I'm hooked now and ready for the next one.

Silva does a magnificent job of using current headlines and trends to make his plots believable. I like that he explains at the end of the book that he made up many of the places and organizations in the book so that conspiracy theorists can recognize that this really is fiction. :)

Silva also gets the dialogue right. Books are so much better when characters speak like real people! Phil Gigante's narration is great. ( )
  bohemiangirl35 | May 3, 2011 |
I found this work to be very current to our post-911 age. Having read one of Silva's novels years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well he continually writes in this genre. Toward the end of the novel, Gabriel's revenge tends to take some time, and that's the only negative I can think of. ( )
  HankIII | Jul 26, 2010 |
Gabriel Allon, the infamous Israeli spy and intelligence agent, prepares for another battle with radical Islamic terrorism. While in Amsterdam on another mission, Allon uncovers an al-Qaeda type plot which is about to take place in London. Unfortunately, he is unable to convince the British to take appropriate counter-measures and the American ambassador's daughter is kidnapped. The mission to recover her and prevent more terrorist incidents leads him on a harrowing path through Europe.

While this is primarily an action thriller novel with a plot that is not particularly new, Silva's writing is different in that there is also an underlying message or warning about the decline of Europe as we know it, culturally, in the rapid rise of radical Islam there and the well-publicized demographics. There is blunt, realistic and, sadly, bleak discussion of the threats facing the West in general, and Europe in particular. There is also an ongoing critique of the way politicians and governments handle terrorism and the Middle East and how it makes things worse. The afterword, in particular, serves to alert the reader to the state of affairs in the world today regarding radical Islam and terrorism.

Although being somewhat bleak and dreary in its forecasts of the future, I loved the suspense and intrigue, the political machinations, and the characters. This is the seventh novel in the series, and I think that I will probably try and go backwards and read some of the earlier novels. ( )
  chinquapin | Jul 15, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399154221, Hardcover)

Product Description
A terrorist plot in London leads Israeli spy Gabriel Allon on a desperate search for a kidnapped woman, in a race against time that will compromise Allon’s own conscience—and life...

Amazon Exclusive Essay: Daniel Silva on Gabriel Allon and the "Accidental Series"

Writers tend to be solitary creatures. We toil alone for months on end, then, once a year, we emerge from our dens to publish a book. It can be a daunting experience, especially for someone like me, who is not gregarious and outgoing by nature. But there is one aspect of promotion I truly love: meeting my readers and answering their questions. During each stop on my book tour, I reserve the bulk of my time for a lively conversation with the audience. I learn much from these encounters-indeed, some of the comments are so insightful they take my breath away. There is one question I am asked each night without fail, and it remains my favorite: "How in the world did you ever think of Gabriel Allon?" The answer is complicated. In one sense, he was the result of a long, character-construction process. In another, he was a bolt from the blue. I'll try to explain.

In 1999, after publishing The Marching Season, the second book in the Michael Osbourne series, I decided it was time for a change. We were nearing the end of the Clinton administration, and the president was about to embark on a last-ditch effort to bring peace to the Middle East. I had the broad outlines of a story in mind: a retired Israeli assassin is summoned from retirement to track down a Palestinian terrorist bent on destroying the Oslo peace process. I thought long and hard before giving the Israeli a name. I wanted it to be biblical, like my own, and to be heavy with symbolism. I finally decided to name him after the archangel Gabriel. As for his family name, I chose something short and simple: Allon, which means "oak tree" in Hebrew. I liked the image it conveyed. Gabriel Allon: God's angel of vengeance, solid as an oak.

Gabriel's professional résumé-the operations he had carried out-came quickly. But what about his other side? What did he like to do in his spare time? What was his cover? I knew I wanted something distinct. Something memorable. Something that would, in many respects, be the dominant attribute of his character. I spent many frustrating days mulling over and rejecting possibilities. Then, while walking along one of Georgetown's famous redbrick sidewalks, my wife, Jamie, reminded me that we had a dinner date that evening at the home of David Bull, a man regarded as one of the finest art restorers in the world. I stopped dead in my tracks and raised my hands toward the heavens. Gabriel Allon was complete. He was going to be an art restorer, and a very good one at that.

Over my objections, the book was entitled The Kill Artist and it would go on to become a New York Times bestseller. It was not, however, supposed to be the first book in a long-running series. But once again, fate intervened. In 2000, after moving to G.P. Putnam & Sons, my new publishers asked me what I was working on. When I mumbled something about having whittled it down to two or three options, they offered their first piece of advice. They really didn't care what it was about, they just wanted one thing: Gabriel Allon.

I then spent the next several minutes listing all the reasons why Gabriel, now regarded as one of the most compelling and successful continuing characters in the mystery-thriller genre, should never appear in a second book. I had conceived him as a "one off" character, meaning he would be featured in one story and then ride into the sunset. I also thought he was too melancholy and withdrawn to build a series around, and, at nearly fifty years of age, perhaps a bit too old as well. My biggest concern, however, had to do with his nationality and religion. I thought there was far too much opposition to Israel in the world-and far too much raw anti-Semitism-for an Israeli continuing character ever to be successful in the long term.

My new publishers thought otherwise, and told me so. Because Gabriel lived in Europe and could pass as German or Italian, they believed he came across as more "international" than Israeli. But what they really liked was Gabriel's other job: art restoration. They found the two opposing sides of his character-destroyer and healer-fascinating. What's more, they believed he would stand alone on the literary landscape. There were lots of CIA officers running around saving the world, they argued, but no former Israeli assassins who spent their spare time restoring Bellini altarpieces.

The more they talked, the more I could see their point. I told them I had an idea for a story involving Nazi art looting during the Second World War and the scandalous activities of Swiss banks. "Write it with Gabriel Allon," they said, "and we promise it will be your biggest-selling book yet." Eventually, the book would be called The English Assassin, and, just as Putnam predicted, it sold twice as many copies as its predecessor. Oddly enough, when it came time to write the next book, I still wasn't convinced it should be another Gabriel novel. Though it seems difficult to imagine now, I actually conceived the plot of The Confessor without him in mind. Fortunately, my editor, Neil Nyren, saved me from myself. The book landed at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and received some of the warmest reviews of my career. After that, a series was truly born.

I am often asked whether it is necessary to read the novels in sequence. The answer is no, but it probably doesn't hurt, either. For the record, the order of publication is The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, and Moscow Rules, my first #1 New York Times bestseller. The Defector pits Gabriel in a final, dramatic confrontation with the Russian oligarch and arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, and I have been told it far surpasses anything that has come before it in the series. And to think that, if I'd had my way, only one Gabriel Allon book would have been written. I remain convinced, however, that had I set out in the beginning to create him as a continuing character, I would surely have failed. I have always believed in the power of serendipity. Art, like life, rarely goes according to plan. Gabriel Allon is proof of that.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Gabriel Allon investigates clues pertaining to an Amsterdam-based terrorism analyst who was murdered by a Muslim immigrant, in a case with ties to a terrorist organization and the abduction of an ambassador's daughter.

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