A young English woman named Madeline Hart disappears from her vacation in Corsica supposedly kidnapped by low Marseilles’ criminals. The demand –left at the door of the British prime minister’s press secretary--is simple: seven days or the girl dies. With such short time, the young British prime minister, counseled by his powerful and Macchiavellian chief of staff, phones Graham Seymour, MI5’s deputy director, for a personal chat.
On behalf of the PM –and unbeknownst to him--, Graham travels to Israel to meet Gabriel Allon to request as a personal favor that he takes the case and finds the woman. Madeline, a rising star in Britain’s ruling party, had been right until her disappearance the mistress of the prime minister.
With no other trails to follow, Gabriel starts his investigation in Corsica. Accompanied by old nemesis Christopher Keller and backed by Keller’s employer Don Orsati, Gabriel finds his first clues in the low life who spirited Madeline away from Corsica in his high speed dinghy. Days go by without finding Madeline, until the kidnappers ask for ten million euros in ransom money and then the chase is on to deliver the money and find her alive, only once the money is safe in their hands, they kill her…
Armed with the promise he made Madeline--the only time they met after Gabriel had asked the kidnappers for proof of life--, Gabriel can’t rest without answers, and in the process he will end up in “the city of heretics”, Moscow, the very city where he almost lost his life to Ivan Kharkov’s goons. There, Gabriel and his team will match wits with silovikis working for a government-owned oil and gas company that is planning to extract oil in the North Sea thanks to an agreement with the current British administration. And the ultimate truth or deception they will find in the prospekts of alluring St. Petersburg.
I liked The English Girl. It is international intrigue of the highest order as Daniel Silva is able to deliver, but a book unlike its predecessors in the series, for the other books were about terrorism as it related to the Jewish state, or about the Jews during and after the Holocaust, while in this case it was a kidnapping made to appear as if low level criminals were behind the operation when in reality it was anything but.
In The English Girl there are three characters that first made their appearances in The English Assassin, namely the signadora—a character that I love because she can predict the future and see the past as well--, Don Orsati—the man behind a revenge-for-money and olive oil business, employer of Christopher Keller—, and Keller—who once put a target on Gabriel’s head and spared his life only to pair up with him for this adventure. All three characters are very well developed as are the others.
As always, Gabriel worked here with his team made up by Rimona, Yossi, Yaakov, Eli Lavon, Dina, Mikhail, Oded, Mordecai and Chiara. Uzi Navot and Ari Shamron also made cameo appearances.
In summary, The English Girl breaks the mold when compared to its counterparts in the Gabriel Allon series, but it keeps its essence by delivering great and complex international intrigue and a roller coaster ride of emotions. Can’t be missed!
“’The problem is that the American president refuses to lay down any hard-and-fast red lines. He says he will not allow the Iranians to build nuclear weapons. But that declaration is meaningless if the Iranians have the capability to build them in a short period of time.’
‘Like the Japanese.’
‘The Japanese aren’t ruled by apocalyptic Shia mullahs,’ Shamron said. ‘If the American president isn’t careful, his two most important foreign policy achievements will be a nuclear Iran and the restoration of the Islamic caliphate.’” Page 26