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Good holiday read
am 15. August 2014
I've read the entire Gabriel Allon series and pretty much the same could be said for all of the books. This volume is no exemption. The literary equivalent of a chocolate bar or a bag of chips, it makes for a good beach read or helps pass time on a long-distance flight.The story and characters are compelling enough to provide good "junk-food" reading and are always close to current events. Mr. Silva does not bother the reader with moral dilemmas or complex characters. Throughout the series, the world stays neatly black and white, always cast along the lines of the same stereotypes, while the characters remain curiously two-dimensional, gaining little depth throughout.
This title follows the same pattern as the rest. Gabriel stumbles onto a great mystery, solves it to discovery an even greater evil, hatches a crazy plan to fix it, and against all odds comes tantalizingly close to achieving his goal when something goes horribly wrong. Maddeningly, along with the pattern of the story, Silva also "recycles" large portions of his prose from the previous volumes, which sometimes leaves me wondering it I've accidentially purchased the same book twice. But no.
This time, the story is set to the background of the civil war in Syria. As usual, Silva skillfully interweaves fact with fiction and creates quest for his hero that is very believable.
We meet a few old aquaintances from previous novels and a new girl, who remains too bloodless to be called a leading lady. The hero Gabriel is slowly turning into a weeping willow, which didn't seem too plausible to me, but I suppose after what he has lived through, he is allowed to mellow with age. Frankly, I found him a lot less compelling than in Silva's previous efforts. Everyone else is (too) much the same.
The Swiss finally get a shot at redeeming their national character; each nation gets to play its assigned role (except for the Americans, who are apparently taking a holiday).
If you have read several of the previous books and liked them, this is one more just like. If you have read one previous book, be prepared to revisit quite a lot of it. For a first Gabriel Allon novel, I'd pick an earlier one.