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12 November 2017

Daniel Silva: House of Spies

The search for Saladin - again
This is another clever but a bit repetitive espionage thriller featuring the fictional legendary Israeli spy, assassin, and art restorer Gabriel Allon. Silva is a master of this genre and never disappoints with contemporary themes, action, and suspense.

The US, England, France and several other countries have been struck severely by attacks in the name of ISIS. Behind it all lurks the evil and secretive leader who calls himself "Saladin" after the 12th-century sultan who created a caliphate across the Middle East and Egypt. He is elusive and dangerous and will certainly strike again.

Gabriel is now head of "The Office" a role he finds hard after so many years in the field. He is also a new father of twins, a role he loves but can't find the time because of the demands of his new office. Fortunately his wife Chiara has also worked for the office and understands the pressure that he is under.

Gabriel is nearly killed in a bomb attack when visiting the building housing the top antiterrorism group in France as part of his search for Saladin. He believes that the key to finding Saladin is to follow the money trail, and to get the kind of money needed for his attacks it is clear that drugs are involved. This leads Gabriel and his key team to the south of France and to the wealthy doorstep of Jean-Luc Martel and Olivia Watson. Martel is highly regarded throughout the world for his philanthropy and art collection so to most it is unbelievable that his immense wealth is built on the proceeds of drugs and that his partner's art gallery is the main conduit to wash this money.

Once again we see Gabriel's team set up a scam to implicate and turn Jean-Luc and Olivia into helping them confront evil. His team expands to include Natalie Mizrahi, the "Black Widow" who is the only person to have got close to Saladin, and retired hired killer and now "The English Spy" Christopher Keller. Things get complicated internationally when US antiterrorism want to control the action. While Gabriel reluctantly concurs to giving them a role, of course, he keeps the key role for his team.

As usual Silva's writing is compelling, action-packed and contemporary. But after so many books in this series, there are a lot of backstories which makes things a bit boring for those who have followed Gabriel over the years. 4.5 stars.

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