This is an amazing book - definitely the best I have read in a long time. The plot is very complex and sweeping and is intertwined with the personal stories of the characters, but it is totally credible. For most of the book, the plot is extremely compelling - a real page turner. A section in the middle gets a bit more academic as the main character researches his case, and this part is less compelling but very interesting. It's a very clever and well crafted story that also does a very creditable job of addressing the issues of war and peace in the middle east in an unusually evenhanded way. Most everyone, with the possible exception of middle east scholars can learn a lot from this very thoroughly researched book. The interview with the author at the end is an extra bonus. This is a must read!
Especially if you've read other Daniel Silva books, don't bother to read this one - his plots are getting to be like the old game of Mad Libs - where the same basic plot is played out with a different country backdrop, different bad guys up to different nefarious plots, and different good guys (actually girls) who somehow are close to the bad guys and can help the protagonist heroically save the world.
The plots are remarkably the same - Gabriel Alon is restoring an art work in some secluded place, and he is NOT going to do any espionage work, but he agrees to do one simple job for his big boss, and that job unfolds in a way that he feels obligated to take on the whole case. Then, some woman who is close to the bad guy decides she wants to betray him and help Israeli intelligence bring him down. Then, it turns out that this woman loves some particular artist (of course, she is wealthy and can afford them), so Alon, who is a great art expert, puts together a fake plot to engage her through the art. Then, too many other foreign services need to get involved besides the Israelis - of course, Adrian Carter from the US NSA, then the British, the French, etc etc, and the story takes many pages to cover the negotiations about this.
SIlva can tell a good story, but a) it loses a lot when the plot feels like deja vu because it's following the same plot line, and b) this particular one has a number of plot elements that just don't make sense or hold up under any thought, and, finally, c) for some reason, when the plot thickens, and I was finally more interested in what was going to happen next, rather than feeling "I've heard this all before", Silva suddenly skips about 3 chapters worth of plot elements that would have been very exciting, and essentially goes to the epilogue, describing the high-level unwinding of the plot from the endpoint. I don't know if he got tired, or had a deadline, or what, but he seemed to just run out of steam and skipped some critical plot lines.
I really enjoy a good spy thriller, but the plot needs to be based on credible assumptions to make it really engaging and not irritating. There are a lot of assumptions in this one that don't hold together, like why and how the "good gal" who helps Alon knows as much as she does, and how they are able to get away at the Ukranian border (you don't just enter the other country - you have to leave Russia, too, and when the whole country is on alert looking for you - how do you do that?). And there are some really irritating plotlines that stand out as convenient but ridiculous. For example, half of the story seems to be focused on how cagey the Israeli spies are at evasion, covering their tracks, etc., and at other times to further the broader plot, they do incredibly stupid things like not realizing they might be followed when meeting with a guy that the Russians are aggressively looking for.
This is just not that good a book - at times more irritating than enjoyable. If you've read other Silva books, some of which are really good, you might want to skip this one.
I read this, my first James Patterson novel, with great expectations and excitement to discover a new writer of thrillers. I was sorely disappointed. I found that, while the plot had some very interesting turns, they were unraveled either by some character coming forward and dumping some information, some character suddenly doing something that made no real sense, or the author suddenly divulging some information that he hadwithheld earlier in the book, rather than by clever sleuthing on the part of the good guys or artful storytelling. Being accustomed to the work of Ken Follet, Richard North Patterson, and Michael Connelly among others, I was used to well woven and craftily uncovered plots and ingenious detective work and appropriately and realistically hidden clues that enabled the reader to ponder and theorize possible outcomes that were later either proven or disproven by the clever police/detective work and subsequtne clues. I found this book cludgy and lacking in credibility and artistry by comparison. The dialogue was strained and artificial at times. There was the basis of a very good story, but I felt that any of the authors I mentioned above could have woven a much tighter, more credible and more suspenseful story from the plot line. I ended the book very disappointed in this author, and disinclined to read any more of his books.
This is my first Michael Connelly book, and I'm hooked. This was great - suspenseful, full of real but engaging characters, both the good and the evil, a stirring plot, and interesting and insightful perspectives on elements of our society - particularly around lawyers and our court system. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it. Now, I've got to go order another Connelly book!
I agree with the previous reviewer - I found this book too long by a great deal and really stretched out. For a book of this genre to be good, it should have a constantly unfolding plot, with the protagonist finding out clues in clever ways. I felt that Koontz was blatantly treading water, creating scenes in which nothing really happened, long riffs on totally unrelated topics, etc., to give the impression that the plot was unfolding, which most of the time it wasn't. When it did, it was just because some character just told Chris a set of facts. Often, this was a friend, who could have just told him had he asked before. Sometimes, he discovers someone who knows something, and decides not to ask. The only reason I could ascertain was because it would make the book too short.
I really liked the beginning of this, my first Koontz book, and was optimistic that I had discovered a new author to read. His character development of Chris Snow in the beginning is very good, and I actually like his literary techniques - some of the analogies, metaphors, etc. ,though he goes over the top frequently. However, once the book became an unfolding thriller, it totally ceased to thrill. Like the other reviewer, I was thinking of my to do list rather than listening to the book. Once in awhile, I'd realize that something had actually happened, and I'd have to reverse to hear it.
I would not recommend this book. The amount of plot development in this entire book is less than, say, one single chapter of The DaVinci Code, and not even in the same league in terms of cleverness of how the plot was revealed by the prime character.
I adore Anna Quindlen, both as a columnist, and from her fiction, which I have previously read. So, I had high expectations from this book, which wer not realized. It was certainly fine, and exposed some good ideas and characters, but was just not that compelling. I kept waiting for the big turn to occur, and it never did. Certainly readable enough, but just not that great.
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