Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: The Other Woman by Daniel Silva

The Other Woman (Gabriel Allon, Book #18)
by Daniel Silva
Release Date: July 17th 2018
2018 Harper
Kindle Edition; 497 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062834829
ASIN: B0739Z4XJ9
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

She was his best-kept secret …
In an isolated village in the mountains of Andalusia, a mysterious Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is the story of a man she once loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. The woman is the keeper of the Kremlin’s most closely guarded secret. Long ago, the KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West—a mole who stands on the doorstep of ultimate power.

Only one man can unravel the conspiracy: Gabriel Allon, the legendary art restorer and assassin who serves as the chief of Israel’s vaunted secret intelligence service. Gabriel has battled the dark forces of the new Russia before, at great personal cost. Now he and the Russians will engage in a final epic showdown, with the fate of the postwar global order hanging in the balance.

Gabriel is lured into the hunt for the traitor after his most important asset inside Russian intelligence is brutally assassinated while trying to defect in Vienna. His quest for the truth will lead him backward in time, to the twentieth century’s greatest act of treason, and, finally, to a spellbinding climax along the banks of the Potomac River outside Washington that will leave readers breathless.

My Thoughts
The Other Woman is the eighteenth book in the Gabriel Allon series and while it was good, it didn't have that 'edge of your seat' feeling that most of his books tend to have.  What I really felt is that it was a filler, like a second book in a trilogy, where there was action, but it was really building for the next book in the series and setting itself up for some explosive and interesting moments in the next book.  So, while I did find it interesting, I did find it a lot more predictable than usual and I thought the plot was a bit too easy to figure out; gone was the intricately plotted action of previous novels and this did leave me a bit disappointed in the end. And while I might be in the minority here, I have read every Gabriel Allon book, and loved them, but there was just something missing in this one. 

First of all, this book focuses a lot more on what I would simply call  the spy trade rather than action.  During a rather sensitive operation, Allon has discovered there is a Russian mole in M16 and is working rather closely with his British counterpart in order to discover who it is.  Because of the way the story is told, or just because, it was rather easy to figure out who it was, despite the red herrings and other twists that were set up in the story.  This is the first time where I thought the twists and turns were rather weak as usually I have no idea what is going on in these books and it takes me a while to figure things out.  Knowing who it was early on kind of spoiled it for me.   I also wondered why Allon, being in a management position, would be able to just up and leave the way he did in order to be central to all the action.  I would think his underlings would object to him doing their jobs. As head of Israeli Intelligence, you would think that he wouldn't just be able to head off wherever and whenever he wanted to; plus, he would just be too visible.  I think it gets to the point where the author needs to figure out exactly what role he wants Allon to play, super spy or head of intelligence, but he can't really do both.  Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with some of the secondary characters being given more leading roles as there are definitely some interesting people who work for Allon who could be given a chance at some character development.  And it wouldn't ruin the stories at all because Allon could still be a main part while running his empire from the background, using his remarkable talents in different ways.

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book was the writing.  As always, the author has a way of drawing in the reader and making them feel like they are part of the action.  While some of the story line is flat, the premise is interesting and it definitely sets up future books as there is no doubt the main issue is now going to be Israel against Russia.  And while Kim Philby's life was certainly interesting I think the way he was introduced into the story kind of disrupted the events and stalled them.  I wonder if there was a better way of discussing Philby and the Cambridge Five or maybe just assuming that people who read these types of novels already know who they are.  I'm not really sure what the solution would be, but I do know that it kind of felt off in the novel and didn't quite fit into the story line the way it was written.  Or maybe it was just me.  I also didn't care a lot for the person who was the mole as I felt they weren't all that dynamic or interesting; I certainly hope the author will develop their character and make them more dangerous or something. 

The Other Woman was interesting and the action was pretty straight forward, right from the start.  To be honest, I found it rather formulaic and rather predictable, but I like the author's way of writing and was drawn into the events right away.  It was only afterwards that I realized how predictable it was; the mole was easy to figure out, once I heard the name Kim Philby I knew what the story line was going to be, and it just felt flat.  I also had a hard time imagining Allon being able to do what he did without a lot of backlash, some of which he did receive from his prime minister, as head of intelligence.  While in these novels you can expect some rules to be bent, the suspension of reality can only go so far.  I usually love these novels, but I did feel as if it was a set up for future novels and I am curious to see what happens next which is why I will continue to read these books. 


  1. I haven't picked it up yet, but I'm planning to. I think part of the problem Silva made for himself is that he established Gabriel in the first book as middle aged, and definitely tied to real world events with his past, so the years have progressed in the books and he's getting older. He might have started out with Gabriel younger.

    1. I agree. And yet it feels like Gabriel doesn't age in the books which is one of the problems I had with him traipsing all over the world as head of intelligence. Doesn't quite fit.