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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    71
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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

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.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 05-17-16

Weakest audiobook in the Gabriel Allon series

I'm a fan of Daniel Silva's 15 book Gabriel Allon series. I listened to Portrait of a Spy when the audiobook was released in 2011. It is my only disappointment in the series. I suspect that the book would have been better had it been narrated by George Guidall or Phil Gigante. This is the only audiobook in the series narrated by Simon Vance. He does not narrate Portrait of a Spy well.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Indiana United States
  • 01-28-14

If you have come this far in the series...

Would you try another book from Daniel Silva and/or Simon Vance?

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.

What other book might you compare Portrait of a Spy to and why?

I have no comparison. It is the least favorite of mine so far in the series.

Would you be willing to try another one of Simon Vance’s performances?

Absolutely not.

Do you think Portrait of a Spy needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie
  • East Windsor, NJ, United States
  • 06-17-12

Delighted With My First Daniel Silva Book

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sesame Street's The Count as Gabriel Allon

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Much the same

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".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Well researched - but too long and no action.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • kb
  • Mount Vernon, WA, United States
  • 09-11-11

One more for the disappointed list

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Narrator Big Problem

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.

19 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rollin
  • Cholula, Mexico
  • 08-04-11

fascinating but over the top

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful