I have never considered myself a spy novel reader. I've always been a fan of espionage on the big screen--hooked since the first time I heard the words "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die," in fact--but I admit to being intimidated by spy novels. I imagined them as too dense and loaded with acronyms for the novice reader, and requiring advanced knowledge at best and homework at worst. So, it was with some trepidation that I prepared for an author visit from Daniel Silva. I nervously cracked open my copy of The Defector--and was promptly lost to the world. I had to force myself to put it down at two in the morning so I could get some sleep. I picked it up first thing in the morning and read as I walked to the office. And in between meetings at work. And on the bus on the way to dinner with the author. When someone at dinner started talking about the ending, I literally stuck my fingers in my ears and hummed to myself. This is all to say that it has been a long time since I've been as taken with, or surprised by a book as I was with The Defector. I encourage those of you, like me, who have enjoyed Bond, Bourne, or Bristow on the screen, but never made the leap to the page, to give Silva a shot (I'm sure Fleming or Ludlum fans will have some recommendations as well). Gabriel Allon is one hell of an interesting character (learn more about the artist/assassin in an exclusive essay from Silva), and the best news is that once you are hooked, there are eight other books in the series to keep you occupied for the rest of the summer.
I'll leave you with my review for The Defector, and encourage spy thriller fans out there to please send me recommendations, because I for one, am sold on the genre.
Amazon Best of the Month, July 2009: "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared." The ninth book in Daniel Silva's smart, fast-paced series about enigmatic assassin and art restorer Gabriel Allon begins with an epigraph courtesy of Machiavelli. A fitting start to a twisty spy thriller chock full of clandestine meetings, tenuous alliances, and ruthless men. The beauty of Silva's series is that it is easy on acronyms and byzantine operations (so you don't have to be a spy novel aficionado to enjoy it), and each book gives you a discreet rundown on familiar characters and back-stories (so you don't have to start at the beginning). In The Defector, the disappearance of Russian defector and dissident Grigori Bulganov draws Gabriel out of semi-retirement and into the path of Ivan Kharkov, the former KGB agent and Russian oligarch from Moscow Rules. Exotic locales, intriguing characters, and a breakneck pace make for a riveting summer read. -- Daphne Durham