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Tales from the Gryphon

Blog postings about my espionage books I am reading

Manoj's hackergotchi
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Thursday 31 January
2008
Link: The Messenger

Posted early Thursday morning, January 31st, 2008

License: GPL

The Messenger

Yet another of Silva's books on Allon. This is the first one in which Allon is active in the Office from the beginning, and one of the most complex plot lines for Silva. Allons relationships advance as well. A very enjoyable caper.

Manoj

Thursday 31 January
2008
Link: The Prince of Fire

Posted early Thursday morning, January 31st, 2008

License: GPL

The Prince of Fire

This novel brings Allon's past, and present, deeper into the lime light; and Silva's writing is beginning to take on the human touch that his earliest works lacked. He invites the reader to invest in the character far more now than he used, and I think that makes his work better. I like how he is also beginning to bring Leah back alive again, a little at a time. And how this plays with Chiara.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: A death in Vienna

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

License: GPL

A death in Vienna

The final part of the Nazi escapees and the collaborators that helped them. This book takes aim at the Swiss banking system, flush with Jewish gold, and the ways in which war criminals were helped and ensconced into high finance society post-WW-II. Again, I think this trilogy leads back to the original book I read by Silva (the most recent, it turns out).

Silva's writing definitely seems to be maturing as he goes along, and the characters get to be more human with every book. This is a writer still coming into his own; and while the trade craft might not yet be up to Smiley's standards, it is not very far off.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The English assassin

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

License: GPL

The English assassin

This is the first of a trilogy that Silva has written around the Nazi looting of the wealth of the Jews of Europe, specifically the art, in this book. This was an excellent read; I think Silva might have found his groove talking about the broader historical context of the Israeli intelligence service operations and the hunting of those responsible for the holocaust.

I certainly recommend this book.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The confessor

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

License: GPL

The confessor

In this, the second of his trilogy exploring the various ways in which Nazi war criminals tried to escape the consequences of their actions during the holocaust, Silva explores the inaction, or perhaps even the tacit cooperation, of the Catholic church, during the holocaust. I suppose this is likely to be controversial. It was a compelling read.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The kill artist

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

License: GPL

The kill artist

The first Gabriel Allon novel by Daniel Silva. It feels much better than the Michael Osborne series; I can begin to feel that Gabriel is human. Tariq feels a little too super human; but the book is fast paced, and better than the run of the mill fare, though only marginally so. The bad guy is still one of the jihadists like those that we met in The Secret Servant.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The marching season

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

License: GPL

The marching season

Yet another book by Daniel Silva, and I am even more disappointed. The pacing has fallen off; the characters are even more pasteboard; and the book is far less compelling than the Gabriel Allon book that drew me to Silva. This is a far, far cry from Smiley's circus.

Manoj

Monday 24 December
2007
Link: The mark of the assassin

Posted early Monday morning, December 24th, 2007

License: GPL

The mark of the assassin

Based on the The Secret Servant, I ordered a whole slew of books from the same author, including this one. I am still impressed by the geopolitical insight; a few years before 9/11, the author sets up a reasonable facsimile by having evil doers blow up a plane taking off from New York; though the evil doers in question are bunches of cold war nostalgic members of the military-intelligence-industrial collective.

The action is till fast paced, though I am far less impressed by the characters than I was in the secret servant. Micheal and Elizabeth seem to be two dimensional cut outs, not people; the person I felt most in touch with was the evil doer assassin.

Manoj

Saturday 10 November
2007
Link: The Secret Servant

Posted early Saturday morning, November 10th, 2007

License: GPL

The Secret Servant

I bought this book by Daniel Silva last week at SFO, faced with a long wait for the red eye back home, since I recalled hearing about it on NPR, and reading a review in Time magazine, or was it the New Yorker? Anyway, the review said he is his generation's finest writer of international intrigue, one of America's most gifted spy novelists ever. I guess Graham Greene and John le Carre belong to an older generation. Anyway, everything I read or heard about it was very positive.

Daniel Silva is far less cynical than Le Carre, and his world does not gel quite as well, to my ears, as Smiley's circus did. The hero, Gabriel Allon, does have some super human traits, but, thank the lord, is not James bond. I was impressed by Silva's geo-politics, though - paragraphs from the book seem to appear almost verbatim in current event reports in the International Herald Tribune and BBC stories.

I like this books (to the extent of ordering another 7 from this author from Amazon today), and appreciate the influx of new blood in the international espionage market. Lately, the genre has been treated by lack luster, mediocre knock offs of the Bourne Identity -- and the engaging pace of the original has never been successfully replicated in the sequels. And Silva's writing is better than Ludlum's.

Manoj


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