At the (very real) risk of sounding like CNN's Wolf Blitzer, I'm announcing some Breaking News, Happening Now.
After my many years of passionate dalliances with other writers of spy novels -- notably the Gray Man and Mitch Rapp series -- I've decided to commit to a literary marriage to Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series.
I discovered Silva in 2018 after making the mistake of buying the book Bill Clinton wrote with novelist James Patterson, "The President Is Missing."
The book was bad. Not the worst I've ever read, but poorly written with shallow characters. After buying it, I read a review in The New Yorker that said Clinton should have chosen Daniel Silva as his collaborator rather than Patterson.
That led me to purchase one of Silva's books in his Gabriel Allon series.
Right away I was hooked. Compared to other writers in the highly-skilled-spy genre, Silva has a rare ability to captivate the reader with thrilling action and finely honed characters who are both wonderfully human and exceptionally talented.
Gabriel Allon is a master Israeli spy who also is one of the world's top art restorers. Brilliant combo!
Allon is the guy you want if, as in the book I'm reading now, you're trying to save the honest wife of a Russian illicit arms dealer who has been captured by the modern equivalent of the KGB and you need someone who can calmly shoot three guards in the head even though they only have sight in one eye due to being repeatedly punched in the other eye by a Russian thug.
He's also the guy you want if you've got a precious painting that needs restoring to its original condition and only the best restorer will do.
Allon is thoroughly committed to defending Israel against its enemies. But I like how Silva often has Allon engage in conversations with Palestinians who he has to combat, yet have good reasons for why they're battling Israel.
That sort of nuance typically is missing from other spy novels -- which I enjoy for the thrilling plot and action, yet disappoint me because Daniel Silva's writing is so superior.
I've read about half of the 20, I think it is, books in the Gabriel Allon series. It's my bedtime reading, what I read just before I turn the light out. Since I'm usually sleepy, my habit is just to read four pages or so.
Another reason I do this is to make the Gabriel Allon books last longer, since I enjoy them so much. However, the older I get (I'm 73), the more I worry that at the rate I'm going, I could die before I finish all of the series.
Hence, my decision to commit to reading a Gabriel Allon book not only at bedtime, but during my nightly hot bath where I've been reading the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn and his writing successor, Kyle Mills, who took over the series after Flynn died.
Perhaps I'll change my mind. I tend to be fickle when it comes to my reading habits. Maybe the later Gabriel Allon books won't be as good as the ones I've read so far. I doubt it, though.
Silva is such a skilled writer, the chance of him writing a lousy Gabriel Allon book seems slim. "The Cellist" was released in 2021. Here's part of an interview with Silva that shows how seriously he takes his craft.
Lots of books and movies use the “torn from the headlines” tag line. It’s usually just PR, but, in this case, it’s a literal description of The Cellist.
It is. I was working on the book, and I got a call from my wife. She said, “Turn on the TV.” I did, and I saw our capital being overrun. I write about national security issues, and I’m not an intelligence officer but I have to think like one when I’m writing. I have to imagine current and future threats to our country. Twenty years after 9/11, and all the trillions of dollars spent to make our homeland safe, to see our capital overrun by our own people was really awful. I knew I had to write about it.
How did you work it in?
It wasn’t easy. I had to rewrite most of the book in six weeks.