MOSCOW RULES - Daniel Silva
It's a particularly apt time to be reading Daniel Silva's espionage thriller MOSCOW RULES, given the recent re-release of Eric Ambler's early espionage works from just before the start of the second world war. Particularly apt as the Moscow Rules of the title, is a hat tip to John le Carre's classic novel Smiley's People - Le Carre having acknowledged Ambler as one of the influential pioneers of the genre.
MOSCOW RULES follows, therefore, a significant body of espionage thriller books. The central protagonist Gabriel Allon follows in the footprints of some incredibly strong characters, although as a part-time art restorer, part-time spy Allon is a slightly different take on the norm. In MOSCOW RULES Allon and his new wife are attempting to have a honeymoon when he's summoned back to meet with a Russian journalist who will only talk to him. The violent death of that journalist takes Allon into new Russia - awash with new money and old enemies. Allon must stop a plot to deliver Russia's most sophisticated weapon to al-Qaeda before it's too late.
I'm not adverse to a bit of good old fashioned espionage, spying, cloak and dagger doings as might be guessed from my overall reading habits. Unfortunately, not having read any of the other books in this series definitely put this reader at a bit of a disadvantage. Sorting out who Allon was; how he fits in with what seems to be an ongoing cast of characters; where the art restoring fitted; and other elements of his back story required a fair amount of effort, and as such I was frequently having to go back and remind myself of plot points and elements of the overall story, which made reading this book a little more time consuming than it would have been had I started somewhere earlier in the series.
Overall I did find that I was engaged by the storytelling, and I did like what I could glean about Allon. Perhaps reading earlier books would have helped as the plot here is very dense with lots of things going on, and sorting out the personalities and the who's who at the same time was very distracting. If you've read earlier books in the series I suspect that MOSCOW RULES will be another favourite for you. Perhaps, if like me you've not had the pleasure before, it might work better if you start a little earlier in the series, as I now intend to do.
The Gabriel Allon series is made up of the following books:
The Kill Artist
The English Assassin
A Death in Venice
Prince of Fire
The Secret Servant
The Defector (July 2009)
The violent death of a journalist leads agent turned art-restorer, Gabriel Allon, to Russia. Here he finds that in terms of spycraft, the stakes are the highest they've ever been. He's playing by Moscow rules now.