The Daily Bongo

The Defector

I just finished reading the brand new Daniel Silva book, The Defector. It is the ninth book in the Gabriel Allon spy series. Allon is an assassin who works for the Israeli Mossad, who hunts down and kills terrorists. In each book, we hear how Allon is tired of the work, and how heavily it preys on this soul. Every time we close the latest Allon, we think to ourselves, "ah, finally, Allon will find happiness and a salve for his tortured psyche." But then in the back of our mind, we know that every time Allon thinks he is out of the game, he gets dragged right back in. In The Defector, the predictable happens, and Allon is back in service.

The last book, Moscow Rules ended with Allon finally marrying long time lover, Chiara, and seeming to finally settle down to a quiet life. However, that is not to be. The defector of this newest book is Grigori Bulganov who had helped Allon escape sure death in Russia at the end of Moscow Rules. Bulganov goes missing in Great Britain, where he has been publicly living his life. MI6 says that Bulganov defected back to Russia, but Allon doesn't believe it. Instead, he believes that Ivan Kharkov, the villain from Moscow Rules, has been able to abduct Bulganov. Allon knows that Kharkov will spend some time torturing Bulganov before he is killed, and he wants to get Bulganov back since Allon made Bulganov a promise of safety. So, Allon enlists the help of the British and American spy systems and his own crack team of Israeli specialists to find out where Kharkov has hidden Bulganov. Since this is probably in Russia, beyond Allon's reach, things are complicated. They become even more complicated when Kharkov abducts Chiara. It becomes a race to the finish to crack Kharkov's network and get to Chiara and Bulganov before they are killed.

If you have read any of the other Daniel Silva books, you will know that assassinations and fast-paced action are central to the plot. The Defector is no different. From start to finish, the book is a real page-turner. The characters are true to the past characterizations, although I do wonder if Silva is tiring for Allon as much as Allon is tiring of the constant kill or be killed of evil. This book definitely reads as if Allon is trying to tie up some loose strings and bring Allon to the end of his career. That said, I still would not be surprised if yet another book is released. However, the constant, "I'm out of the service for life" and "My life/Chiara/some other person is in danger. I must be pulled back into service for this one last act" is growing old. Perhaps Silva should consider another Michael Osbourne to make the Allon series seem less stale.

Would I recommend The Defector? You betcha! It's a fun, summer read. For this particular book, I would recommend reading Moscow Rules first since the characters return in this book. Would I read a new Allon, if one comes out next year? Probably. So far, I have not tired of the rehashed plots, but I could see that happening soon.

August 20, 2009