“House of Spies” is Daniel Silva’s 20th novel and 17th starring Israeli spy and master art restorer Gabriel Allon. To put that in perspective, Ian Fleming wrote only 12 James Bond novels.
But even though Silva pleaded unsuccessfully with a standing-room audience at the Marcus Jewish Community Center during the summer to let him stray into different areas with his writing, perhaps counting on an uncast Allon TV series to satisfy fans for a while, neither the writer nor his star creation shows any loss of mental creativity or physical ability in their latest adventure.
Allon has excuses to slow down. He is remarried, is the father of infant twins and is officially in charge of the spy agency known as the Office.
But he also has a nation to protect and a grudge to settle against the terrorist mastermind known as Saladin, who unleashed his ISIS machine in the previous novel, “The Black Widow,” to devastating effect in Washington.
Acting nothing like a man in his mid-to-late 60s, as the avenging assassin of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre must be, Allon hopscotches through London, Paris and Washington before the inevitable showdown with Saladin in the wilds of the Moroccan desert.
Silva includes all his usual elements: a vicious terrorist attack to set the story in motion; a too-clever, Israeli-led international counter operation that doesn’t quite go right; an education in an area of the spy/terrorist war most of us are unfamiliar with (in this case, terrorists’ use of North African smuggling rings to infiltrate Europe with deadlier wares than hashish); and just the right amount of spy tradecraft and high-tech devices to support but not slow down the story.
Silva also packs the novel with familiar characters and movingly gives fan favorite Julian Isherwood a chance to play the hero.
Someday, Silva will grow tired of Gabriel Allon or will acknowledge that Allon and his contemporaries must succumb to age. Thankfully, that day has not arrived.
BOX w/book cover if it fits
House of Spies
By Daniel Silva
Harper, 544 pages, $28.99