The New Maine Times Book Review: The English Girl

Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2014 in Culture

The New Maine Times Book Review: The English Girl
THE ENGLISH GIRL
By Daniel Silva.
Harper Collins, 2013.
482 pages, $27.99.
ISBN 978-0-06-207316-7.
 
Reviewed by William D. Bushnell
 
    Marseilles, France is infamously known for a French criminal element with a well deserved reputation for single-minded ruthlessness and brutal efficiency.  Sometimes, however, Marseilles thugs can be incredibly stupid.  If they were going to kidnap the young mistress of the British Prime Minister, they should have known that things were going to end badly for them, especially with Gabriel Allon on their trail.
 
    THE ENGLISH GIRL is best-selling author Daniel Silva’s sixteenth novel in his wildly popular thriller series featuring Allon, an assassin, art restorer, spy, and soon to be the director of the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad.  Silva is in good company with author like Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, and Lee Child, writers whose clandestine characters always make sure the bad guys get exactly what’s coming to them, no matter who gets in the way.
 
    Silva’s novels are pure thrillers based on current political and international events, loaded with suspense, plot twists, red herrings, gripping action, and an assassin’s clear sense of morality, justice, and retribution.  And this novel is probably his best, most exciting and entertaining story yet.
 
    Madeline Hart is a young British political party activist on vacation in Corsica with some friends when she goes missing one day.  A missing tourist is one thing, but since she is also the mistress of Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster, the British Secret Service goes on high alert but cannot use the police or any other law enforcement agency for strictly political reasons.
 
    A friend calls a friend and soon Gabriel Allon of the Mossad is asked to recover Madeline from her captors.  Allon agrees to repay a debt, and he is soon allied with a British SAS-deserter, Christopher Keller, who is not a Corsican-hired hit man who once tried to kill him.  Allon needs Keller’s special talents and Keller needs the excitement.  Together, under a truce, they embark on a rapid-fire investigation of coercion and torture to get the information they need, but their rescue plan fails.
 
    And then they discover that the Marseilles criminals were merely front-men for an even more deadly and insidious conspiracy that threatens not only the British government but Europe as well.  The problems then are:  Is Madeline still alive?  If so, where is she?  If not, who should pay for her death?  For Keller the answer is simple – kill everybody they meet until they find the girl.  For Allon, the answer is a bit more complex, although Keller’s method has some satisfying appeal.
 
    When old enemies reappear Allon has to call on some additional help, other Mossad agents with unique skills and the willingness to use them to maximum effect against a wide variety of political and personal arch-enemies.  And the body count rises as Allon, Keller, and their comrades confront a resurgent and even more lethal Russian KGB, more than one traitor, and politicians who selfishly seek comfortable expedience rather than final justice.
 
    Silva is a masterful storyteller, creating authentic, convincing plot with characters whose sense of right, justice, duty, and loyalty allow them to see threats and solutions clearly, giving them the strength and determination to act decisively.  Allon and Keller are not encumbered by Miranda rights, probably cause, or any other legal impediments to getting the job done, and that is what makes them so dangerous.  Their methods may be outside-the-box, but they produce most satisfying results.
 
    And the English girl, like so many of Silva’s characters (even Gabriel Allon) is not who she seems to be.  Read this novel carefully, for Silva plants many clues to lead (or mislead) the reader to Allon and Keller’s next steps in this exciting tale of political and economic intrigue.
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