The Secret Servant brings back Israeli spy Gabriel Allon in this seventh installment of Daniel Silva’s series. This time we find Allon as a weary, tired agent ready to hand up his holster and, unwillingly, accept his fate in management.
Meanwhile, master art restorer and Israeli agent Gabriel Allon is on his way to Amsterdam to look through the archives of an Israeli asset that has been murdered. A routine assignment perhaps, but Allon soon discovers that the Islamic underground is plotting to commits acts of terror in England.
Elizabeth Halton, daughter to the ambassador to the Court of St. James, is kidnapped. To save her, Allon has to confront his conscience and make unlikely allies along the way.
I found The Secret Servant to be more timely, at least in atmosphere, than other volumes of the Gabriel Allon series. As usual with the rest of the series, the book is difficult to put down, a fast-paced adventure and thriller that brings back familiar characters.
The characters age with the books, which I like. None are superheroes, but people with issues and problems who justify their acts to themselves by holding a high moral ground. However, this high moral ground feels unstable from time to time, which leaves them feeling confused and filled with regrets.
The book is filled with many characters, bumbling politicians, Islamic extremists, non-extremist Muslims. What I especially liked was that Mr. Silva constantly challenges the reader to rethink preconceived notions and ethical issues within the context of the story.
He chose an omniscient narrator for this book, and it is a wise choice due to the many personal struggles the characters go through. Much like another favorite spy of mine, James Bond, the author chose to blur the differences between the acts of the villains and the heroes (I am talking, of course, about the Bond books, not the movies of the tongue-in-cheek superhuman spy). The villains justify killing for their religions, the heroes for their country. The villains resort to torture in the name of their G-d, the heroes resort to those same tactics for their cause, justifying it to themselves
The Islamization of Europe is also covered. Having read a few articles about the subject in the past several years, I think Mr. Silva, while with some obvious opinions, did a fair job in presenting the subject from various points of view. The fall of Mubarak and how his regime of Egyptian oppression bred hate is also woven into the story.
While the Gabriel Allon books are formulaic, they are still very enjoyable and well paced. The links to current events and weaknesses within the main characters add dimensions to this novel that I found fascinating and thought-provoking.