In an isolated village in the mountains of Andalusia, a mysterious Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is the story of a man she once loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. The woman is the keeper of the Kremlin’s most closely guarded secret. Long ago, the KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West—a mole who stands on the doorstep of ultimate power.
Only one man can unravel the conspiracy: Gabriel Allon, the legendary art restorer and assassin who serves as the chief of Israel’s vaunted secret intelligence service. Gabriel has battled the dark forces of the new Russia before, at great personal cost. Now he and the Russians will engage in a final epic showdown, with the fate of the postwar global order hanging in the balance.
Gabriel is lured into the hunt for the traitor after his most important asset inside Russian intelligence is brutally assassinated while trying to defect in Vienna. His quest for the truth will lead him backward in time, to the twentieth century’s greatest act of treason, and, finally, to a spellbinding climax along the banks of the Potomac River outside Washington that will leave readers breathless.
After the slightly disappointing read that was House of Spies last year, I thought maybe Gabriel Allon’s story is now saturated, but this book proves me wrong. The story here is much more personal but also with far reaching consequences affecting multiple intelligence agencies for a long time to come.
What starts as an easy job of securing a Russian defector in Vienna turns into an assassination on the streets and everyone is quick to point fingers at Gabriel. All the goodwill that he earned after killing Saladin is up in smoke and even Israeli newspapers are questioning his ability to run the Office. When he decides to take a deeper look into the failed operation, he quickly realizes there is a mole operating in the very high echelons of Western intelligence and it falls on him to discover the truth.
We don’t get the usual bomb blasts and mass murders and nuclear weapons in this installment. It’s much more about Russian infiltration into western agencies and how far they would go to dismantle the existing power structures. We get a lot of history of British spies from the World War and Cold War like Kim Philby and Cambridge Five and Daniel Silva integrates this history with his own fiction creating the perfect mole. I loved getting to know all of this history and the way Gabriel and his team use this information to zero in on the mole and set up their usual trap to catch them.
There is a lot more talk about current world events in this book and I enjoyed the way the author talks about his political opinions through his stories. The planning and execution is pretty simplistic as usual and we know that nothing bad would ever happen to any of the major players. But the last 15-20% of the book is really thrilling and and the twists and turns that took place were not what I was expecting and was pleasantly surprised. The ending especially felt very realistic and also laid the foundation for the very different turn Gabriel’s story is going to take in the upcoming books. I have always admired the way Gabriel developed his tentative relationships with Graham and Adrian through the course of this series and it was devastating to see them end up on opposing sides and I can’t wait to see what explosive things are going to happen next.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and obviously would recommend to all fans of Gabriel. It’s also quite different from the last couple of books in the series, so you should keep that in mind before reading. This book is also much more blatantly political and presents a bleak picture of things that are happening or could happen. The author’s note is especially scary and could also be a prediction of things to come, both in the real world and the series. If you love Gabriel, don’t miss out on this one.