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
Those of us who have become passionate fans of Daniel Silva's Mossad agent Gabriel Allon's secret service work around the globe will love this book. Like John LeCarre, Silva writes with brilliance and subtlety--so there are none of the Tom Clancy style over-the-top action sequences for which some others have criticized this book. Instead, you get very nuanced, multi-layered, developed characters richly informed by Silva's experience as a UPI journalist based in the Middle East. , , , And I heartily disagree with those who criticize the narration. The reader paints pictures with words, and creates a world where it is easy to lose yourself.
Daniel Silva is absolutely and wonderfully addictive. Reading him is little eating candy it's that good. I have been totally taken by his hero, Gabriel Allon, since the first of the series. I am just delighted that Simon Vance is now -at long last! - narrating. Till now, I read Daniel Silva's books because I didn't like the narrator. Now, I can listen to Simon Vance read one of my favorite spy novels' writer.
I'm very glad I didn't read many of the reviews here. I felt the book was a very good, entertaining, and well scoped, the plot was believable, perhaps a little over the top but then that's what thrillers are at times, certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of he book. I felt the narrator was excellent, well done Simon Vance. I found this book hard to put down.
These ratings should really include a separate feature for the narration. Five stars in that section for this book. Four for the novel itself only because I am loath to pass out five stars for any but the very, very best, and it would be hard for one to imagine a serial novel being on the same level as Les Miserables or Huckleberry Finn. Nonetheless, this was a rock-solid effort on the part of Daniel Silva. Kudos.
I am married with four grown children and eleven grandchildren. We have two dogs, Sam and Bailey and two cats, George and Gracie.
Let me start out by saying I loved this series of books until the last two. This book was just dialogue, no action, and for me, no real plot like we have come to expect from prior books. I finished listening but I really had to force myself. In the past, I would stay up late into the night because I got involved in what was taking place. Three star reflects this book was just just an average read.
I love this series and look forward for months until the next book comes out. It's still a great series, but I am so disappointed with the narration. Phil Gigante who read the previous books gave life to the characters and while generally speaking I very much enjoy Simon Vance, he is a poor choice for this series. He has a great voice for a lot of books, but not for this one. The characters were so much more rounded and lively with the previous narrators (Phil Gigante and John Lee). The book is still good so far, I haven't finished it yet, but the narration, very, very disappointing. Maybe, Daniel Silva can commission another version with the narration of Phil Gigante or John Lee.
I'm a sucker for Gabriel Allon. I cannot get enough of these books. If you feel the same way, this one won't disappoint. (I also like Vivaldi even though he wrote the same concerto a hundred times.) It's not his most "believeable" work, but then are any of them? Isn't that why we love them?
I prefer the books with ex-Nazi or Russian crime lords as antagonists, as opposed to middle eastern terrorists (too close for comfort?) but if you are hooked on this series like I am, this one will satisify.
I'm not sure how long this series can go on, though. Gabriel and gang are getting a little old for this line of work--he must be at least 60 so, how old must chain-smoking Shamron be by now?
If you are just beginning to read Daniel Silva, this is not the best one to start with... I'd recommend "The English Assasin" which is still my all-time favorite.
I am a big fan of Daniel Silva and this is great. The story and narrator pulled me into this novel with true emotion.
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.
Once again Daniel Silva has written a thriller that ranks with the very best. While the book starts a little slow, it quickly hits its stride and keeps the reader on the edge until a very satisfying conclusion. In fact Silva is able to give the reader at least three conclusions, each tying up loose ends. Well worth the price. The only problem with the book is that when you finish it you realize that it will be another year until Silva writes another.
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