Review: House of Spies by Daniel Silva

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Following on directly from the events in The Black Widow, Daniel Silva’s seventeenth Gabriel Allon thriller, House of Spies, pits the new chief of Israel’s intelligence services against his most formidable opponent yet: the terrorist Saladin, who has just pulled off a spectacular attack on London’s West End.

House of Spies charts the planning and execution of a Gabriel Allon masterminded operation — with the assistance of international intelligence agencies, of course — to locate Saladin, terminate him, and dismantle his vast network of Islamic State terrorists. Silva’s plotting is as deliberate as always; so too his prose, which constitutes a distinguished elegance that separates him from his contemporaries. This is a riveting thriller, which includes the requisite gunfights and explosions genre aficionados demand, but is at its best during its character interactions, when Silva depicts the different styles of global intelligence services, and offers nuanced commentary on geopolitics. This is a genre flooded with novels that rush the build-up; authors desperate to light the fuse and get to the explosion before readers can take a breath. Silva’s expertise is that period between the lighting of the fuse and the explosion; the ratcheting of tension, the heightening of suspense. And nobody else does it with such style and grace, and a great sense of the interpersonal. House of Spies has a gigantic cast, but these people are not faceless merchants of death. They are genuine characters with unique personalities, and reading their interactions is a joy.

Perhaps not the best novel for newcomers to start with, House of Spies serves as another reminder of Daniel Silva’s immense talent. As the world gets scarier and the threats against democracy more vicious, Silva’s thrillers provide much-needed literary escapism, where the good guys don’t always win, but their efforts are stirring, and their adventures delightfully pulse-pounding and unputdownable.

ISBN: 9781460750230
Format: Paperback
Pages: 544
Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Publish Date: 24-Jul-2017
Country of Publication: Australia

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