I found myself taking unnecessary detours while driving, just in order to be able to listen a bit more of this book.
Portrait of a Spy is not only very well written, with evident ample backgound research, but also with a seamless, entrapping prose that flows constantly. It is like being taken along whitewater rapids, constantly feeling the adrenalin, waiting for the next rock to watch out for while enjoying the icy dip in the turbulent water.
I am sure I would not have enjoyed this book as much in print, because Simon Vance does not narrate, he truly acts the whole novel, with outstanding ability to impersonate both male and female characters of very different upringings and nationalities, taking you right into the story.
First, let me state for the record that I have read and enjoyed all of Dan Silva's spy novels. But this one seemed formulaic and tired, frankly. The plot, at least for the past two or three, has been the same: something happens to bring reluctant spy Allon back into the game. He comes up with an intricate plan that includes a masterpiece of art, then calls in his old spy buddies who are grayer at the edges but otherwise ready and willing to jump back in the game. There is the old eminence grise, still smoking wherever it pleases him, when he should have died of lung cancer 20 years back. Back again is the lady with the photographic memory of terrorists who looks at the CIA files and in a day or two comes up with the answer than 200 analysts and their computers missed. Reprise from the guy who can track anybody anywhere. The London art dealer, whom I liked in the early novels, returns as little more than a caricature of his former self. Even when Allon and his beautiful Italian spy wife jump in the sack, I was left feeling, "Why bother?" Boring.
Another reviewer said this book amounts to pro-Israeli propaganda. I had not considered that when I read the previous Allon novels, but I have to admit that she has a point. It seems to me, Mr Silva, in the vast human catastrophe we call the middle east, you might be able to craft at least one believable character from the Palestinian viewpoint who doesn't go over to the Israelis. And no, the willing suspension of disbelief does not extend to the two Palestinian characters in this novel, one of whom barely shows up until it's time to save the day.
Bottom line, if you're a Silva fan, nothing I say will make a difference. But, if you don't have a history with him, pass this one by. Lots better ways to spend your time.
Yes. Once you get this far. You have to finish. Since I started at book 1, and am now here, I must move forward even though this was my least favorite.
Simon Vance is awful.
I have no comparison. It is the least favorite of mine so far in the series.
Worst narration I have heard so far. That is unless you like a narrator whose characters ALL sound like a terrible James Bond/Sean Connery imitation that went horribly awry. All of the characters were way too overplayed. It's as if the only voice he could use for every character was a play off of James Bond. This was a brutal book to get through. You should buy it and read it. Pass on the audio. Pick it back up in audio version when this narrator is not reading.
I know that Daniel Silva is a popular author for mysteries related to the Middle East, but never got around to reading anything by him. I started listening to this book on CD when I borrowed someone's car and loved the book. Finished with a download from Audible. Highly enjoyable!
Others have made the comparison before me, but this narrator sounds like The Count on Sesame Street. It's a detriment to an intriguing story.
It gets increasingly difficult to wade through all the exposition that is accumulating through this series, but the intrigue is just too much fun to keep me from enjoying the story.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the characters of this book, but Mr. Silva has definitely gotten into a rut. Same story, different characters. If you've never listened to one of his books, it's great. If you've listened to them all, listen only if you want to "keep the streak alive".
This is the last time I will spend money on a Daniel Silva book until and unless he changes the current storyline and venue drastically. It is the same old same old and I wish I had my credit back as it was an extremely boring book. Way too much about art restoration and little to no action.
I like the narrator very much, but for me the story fell flat. I kept waiting for some action or suspense, but it never developed. Instead endless dialogue that gradually moved toward a finale that I was glad to finally reach.
This may have been a fine novel unfortunately I will ever know. The narration was so poor that I could only pick up 50% of the dialogue. This type of gross inadequacy should result in a refund.
Silva is always a great read and he's getting better. But although I thoroughly enjoyed Portrait, it exaggerates the qualities of Gabriel and Nadia, the main characters. They both come across as "super" figures, cartoon characters.