“The Defector”, by Daniel Silva

If you’re in the market for a really good international espionage/thriller series, I strongly recommend Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. “The Defector” is book nine of this, to date, sixteen book series. It provided what I’ve come to appreciate about Daniel Silva’s writing – great characters, an intriguing plot, a frank depiction of the current world order, and a sympathetic account of the struggles of Israel and her people.

The main character in this series, Gabriel Allon, is an Israeli assassin who is also a highly gifted art restorer. (it’s an unusual 41mgmzdnksl-_sx273_bo1204203200_combination, but it works). Now in his fifties, he has spent his entire adult life bringing enemies of Israel to justice. In this series, this has included Nazis, extreme Islamic terrorists and Russian arms dealers. He is so good at what he does that he’s a legend within the intelligence community as well as within the group of scum that he hunts. But his lifestyle – everything he’s done and everything he’s exposed to – has taken it’s toll on him. He’s a tormented, soulful man and the perfect character to build a series around.

“The Defector” picks up where the previous book, “Moscow Rules”, left off. A man Gabriel and his team helped defect from Russia disappears. British officials think he redefected back to Russia. Gabriel knows better and because he owes the Russian a debt, he sets out to solve the mystery of what happened to him. This sets into motion a series of events that is fraught with tension and often violence (this series is not for the squeamish).

The plot is good and the characters well developed. Mr. Silva has a knack for creating bad guys that have me hoping will meet a terrible demise (I’m rather bloodthirsty when it comes to terrorists). And his good guys, although flawed, are highly sympathetic and have interesting and often heartbreaking back stories.

I do recommend this book, although I also recommend starting at the beginning (with The Kill Artist ) if you’re new to this series. The author does try to catch new readers up by providing some history, but I think a lot of important context would be missing if you didn’t read this series in order.

Know of any good international espionage thrillers? Let me know!

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