Haunted by his failure to stop a suicide bomber in London, Gabriel Allon is summoned to Washington and drawn into a confrontation with the new face of global terror. At the center of the threat is an American-born cleric in Yemen who was once a paid CIA asset.
Gabriel and his team devise a daring plan to destroy the network of death - from the inside - a gambit fraught with risk, both personal and professional. To succeed, Gabriel must reach into his violent past. A woman waits there, a reclusive heiress and art collector who can traverse the murky divide between Islam and the West. She is the daughter of an old enemy, and together they form an unlikely and dangerous bond.
Set against the disparate worlds of art and intelligence, Portrait of a Spy moves swiftly from the corridors of power in Washington to the glamorous auction houses of New York and London to the unforgiving landscape of the Saudi desert. Featuring a climax that will leave listeners haunted long after the final words, this deeply entertaining story is also a breathtaking portrait of courage in the face of unspeakable evil - and Daniel Silva's most extraordinary novel to date.
©2011 Daniel Silva (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
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.
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.
I look forward to Daniel Silva's novels. I love Gabriel and the crew. I thought the narration was terrific. I don't know what these people are talking about. I thought this was his best book ever.
Maggie in Boise
Probably not. It would be more productive to move on to another in the series, which I reslly enjoy
How can I not choose Gabriel.
I started this series with The Heist, which is the most recent. I worked back from there and have listened to 4 or 5 of them. I enjoy them all. I've also learned quite a bit about politics in the middle Eadt- and the Israeli intelligence.
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