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Portrait of a Spy

A Novel
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Series: Gabriel Allon, Book 11
Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,506 ratings)

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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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    73
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Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • jb
  • Boston, MA
  • 08-01-11

Superb New Volume in Silva's Gabriel Allon Series

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.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just like eating candy

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.
Dominique Hunter

43 of 48 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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

Narration.

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.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kathleen
  • Plattsmouth, NE, United States
  • 07-27-11

No action, just dialogue

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.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • 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.

18 of 23 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.

8 of 10 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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • lloyd
  • mollymook, Australia
  • 02-06-12

ALONZO

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.

5 of 6 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".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dinah Wells
  • 05-18-12

Portrait of a Spy

Vintage Daniel Silva, very exciting. Gabriel Allon continues to be a fascinating character and very well narrated by Simon Vance.