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Aug 02, 2017 at 13:30

The English Girl is Daniel Silva’s 13th edition to the Gabriel Allon series featuring the Israeli super-spy, Allon. An on-and-off “retired” spy, Allon moonlights as an art restorer, and is the top Secret Agent for the government. This time, Silva drops Allon into a fractious encounter with the KGB’s ugly remnants.

Gabriel Allon works as an art restorer at home in Jerusalem where he gets to know that the British prime minister who received a ransom demand for his captive mistress, Madeline Hart – a young rising star in the British Parliament. He has to pay in seven days, or her corpse gets buried with the Prime Minister’s reputation. Allon then launches himself in a chase around Europe and Russia, and ends up peeling the layers of an elaborate blackmail scheme that is bigger and more dangerous that the reader anticipates.

In due course of events, Allon is paired with Christopher Keller, the antagonist of the second Allon novel – The English Assassin. It is a pleasure to see the memorable character’s return, especially in the new off-beat pairing between him and Allon; considering that they once upon a time tried to slit each other’s throats. Their repartee is possibly the book’s strongest asset.

Silva does an excellent job of setting the scene in Corsica and describing the English girl. The descriptions are dramatic, Madeline and the friends she is vacationing with come alive with Silva’s eloquent narration. It’s a breathtaking novel which rolls convincingly through the Corsican underworld and London’s sprawling villas to Number 10 Downing Street and the equally corrupt and equally deadly industrial organisations in post-Soviet Russia. The geographies in the book are as captivating as the thrilling adventure. The KGB back in action with a puzzle that will keep you guessing and reading late into the night. Nevertheless, Silva seems intent on reassuring readers he knows whereof he speaks by lacing the narrative with significant historical events and geographical triviality each time Allon sets foot in a new scene.

All in all The English Girl is a top-notch action novel with a phenomenal geopolitical commentary, that for one can make rising goosebumps an enthralling experience.

Malvika Nair