A Surprisingly Good Portrait of a Spy

As I discussed, the past couple months have been a bookish whirlwind. I did have the pleasure of fitting in Simon Vance’s masterful reading of Portrait of a Spy. Daniel Silva recently visited my town to promote the book, but I had to missed the talk. I heard positive reviews from those who did go to his event. When I came across the audio read by Vance, one of my favorite narrators in the business, I decided to give him a shot.

Portrait of a Spy is the latest in Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. I was hesitant to jump into a series so far along. Silva covers the highlights of Allon’s background quickly, catching readers up, once the character is properly introduced. A talented artist, he was recruited by Mossad where he earned a reputation as an elite officer.

This outing finds him seemingly retired in Cornwall helping a friend with a sensitive art restoration project. A relaxing trip into London puts Gabriel and his wife, Chiara, in the middle of a terrorist bombing- one of three worldwide the same day.

Gabriel returns to Cornwall, haunted by his failure to prevent the attack in London. It is not long before a call from Washington pulls him back into the world of clandestine operations and offers a chance to make it right on a more global scale. Given permission by the CIA to form his own team, Gabriel brings in some of the best operatives from his time with Mossad. Together, they devise a plan to bring down the dangerous cleric behind the bombings who is poised to create a worldwide network of dangerous extremists.

It would be hard to say more about the plot without waving my hand through the delicate spiderweb of interconnected personalities, plots, and plans. Silva has created an intricate spy thriller, refined by the added blend of art and the criminal element.

Simon Vance’s reading enriches the tale. The myriad of accents and characters are all given unique voices, including the women who are convincingly read. Thrillers can sometimes place plot over character, but Vance makes them real people, not just conduits for the story.


Welcome to 2012

I have been neglecting this blog for entirely too long. As well as planning and executing Traverse City Children’s Book Festival, the Book Geek in me decided I really wanted to work a few hours a week at the new location of one of my favorite indie books stores, Brilliant Books. Who needs sleep when you have books?

After a couple months, I have found a balance and will be back reviewing and discussing in full force. Through it all I did not stop reading, so there will be a few write-ups coming in no time.

So, welcome 2012, my year of books. Happy New Year to all of you! I look forward to a new year of great reads and discussions!