(20. - 1045.) The English Girl by Daniel Silva - An English rose, Madeline Hart, disappears in Corsica. Her future had been bright:
With her television good looks, keen intellect, and boundless energy, Madeline was being groomed for a safe seat in Parliament and a ministry of her own. It was only a matter of time. Or so they said.
A few weeks later a video is delivered to the Prime Minister’s director of communications, Simon Hewitt, in which Madeline speaks of her sexual relationship with the PM, Jonathan Lancaster. With it is a sheet of paper that says:
You have seven days, or the girl dies.
He passes it on to the PM’s Chief of Staff, Jeremy Fallon, who contacts Graham Seymour of MI5 who reaches out to Gabriel Allon, Israeli intelligence agent and assassin and art restorer. Calling on a favour Seymour asks Allon to find Madeline.
I was hooked.
Where should he even start? French police were unable to find a trace of her or even identify the man with whom she had lunch the day of her disappearance.
Not surprisingly Allon looks to contacts in organized crime who have access to different sources of information than the police.
He further contacts an expatriate Englishman, Christopher Keller, who is a former member of British special forces and British Intelligence. Keller is making a living in the dark shadows of the world.
I was surprised by a mystical element to Keller’s life. He wears a talisman and has faith in the visions of an elderly Corsican woman concerning the future.
As the search becomes more complicated Gabriel is called to a meeting at 10 Downing Street:
After a lifetime of service in the secret world, Gabriel had lost count of the number of times he had entered a room in crisis. The nature and setting didn’t seem to matter; it was always the same. One man pacing the carpet, another staring numbly out a window. And still another trying desperately to appear calm and in control, even when there was no contol to be had.
When the kidnapper specifically demands Gabriel handle the ransom it is clear there is clearly a personal connection between the kidnapper and Allon.
There is a disaster and Gabriel seeks revenge.
Gabriel’s search for the mastermind “Paul” is the best part of the book. Where the early section relied heavily on violence there was more intelligence in pursuing Paul.
You need to suspend some disbelief on what the Israeli Secret Service might do for an agent’s personal vendetta but the convincing of Israeli leadership was well done.
Tension built for a classic thriller ending.
The bodies piled up rather easily early in the book but there were none for several hundred pages.
Silva is skilled at moving the thriller forward. I wanted to read the next page and the next and the next. Yet I wished Gabriel used his fine mind more than his killing skills. It is smoothly written but I am ambivalent about reading another in the series.
Silva, Daniel – (2000) - The Marching Season; (2001) - The Kill Artist; (2003) - The Confessor; (2009) – The Secret Servant