I have seldom been a reader of spy novels, having often found the plots too complex or the characters too unbelievable for me to really enjoy, but House of Spies by Daniel Silva has managed to successfully change my mind. In what is the 17th ‘Gabriel Allon’ thriller in this series, I managed to successfully pick up the threads to get me completely absorbed in what was an absolutely mesmerising read.
Gabriel Allon is now the chief of office (the Mossad) and in his Israeli high security fortress is focused on the necessity of the immediate demise of Saladin, a high ranking ISIS operative who has masterminded several recent suicide bombings in densely populated parts of the world, including the theatre district of London’s glittering West End. Allon, along with a cast of many who also support the execution of this killer all collaborate in a large and yet intensely intricate plan to find and rid the world of Saladin.
Part of the cast of many is Christopher Keller, a former British special ops soldier, Corsican assassin and now an MI16 recruit who graduated top of his class. He, along with Mikhail Abramov and Natalie Mizrahi are characters out of the previous novels, but in reading this as a stand alone book enough back information is provided to make the flow of the book seamless. Then there is an affluent drug dealer and restaurant owner JLM (Jean-Luc Martel) and his stunning English lover and art gallery owner Olivia Watson who live a life of extravagant opulence in Saint Tropez. An art world ‘sting’ is devised to extricate information vital to the cause, and much of the story involves this being carried out with great finesse and flawless planning.
The plot also involves Turkey, Britain, France and the United States as the operation becomes global in its scope. What is so impressive is the almost effortless style of prose that Daniel Silva uses to describe such extraordinary world events as they unfold. There is even a certain wry sort of humour to alleviate the tension as Silva describes each of the characters intimately, as well as their personal flaws. I found this endearing as it brings the characters down to a human level, in spite of their abilities and talents which could easily make them appear remote and unreadable.
The team move from Saint-Tropez to Casablanca as the action heats up. When the climax comes, it is after a build up of such tension that the reader is grateful for the reprieve. The plot is tense, fast moving and filled with much suspense. Even when you think it has ended, it hasn’t really as Silva leaves no loose ends untied. In a current world climate where terrorism is a spectre that continually haunts us, House of Spies is a story which is one that could easily unfold tomorrow in any part of the world. What Daniel Silva also reveals is an in-depth knowledge of some of the world’s most advanced technology and weaponry used in the global war against terrorism.
House of Spies was an engrossing read, from the first page until the last. Exciting, tense, clever and even funny at times, it kept me completely captivated right until the end. An excellent book. It is well written and it comes highly recommended by me.