Gail Cooke's Reviews > Portrait of a Spy Low Price CD: A Novel

Portrait of a Spy Low Price CD by Daniel Silva
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Aug 12, 2011

it was amazing

With literally hundreds of audiobook narrations to his credit and enough awards to fill many mantels, Simon Vance is an acclaimed voice performer. Formerly a newsman for the BBC, his voice is rich, resonant, strong, wonderfully suited to bring Silva’s affecting protagonist to life. Portrait Of A Spy is pure listening pleasure.

We’ve read that Gabriel Allon has been hailed as the most compelling creation since “Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond.” So true - a premier art restorer and an international operative bent on seeing justice done Allon is a fascinating character, a blend of intellectual acuity and fearlessness.

Gabriel, using the name Giovanni Rossi, is the talk of the Cornish village of Gunwalloe. He and his wife, Chiara, occupy a cottage with a twelve-month lease paid in advance “with all the paperwork handled discreetly by an obscure lawyer in Hamburg.” Whoever he is, whatever he does all the villagers agree he has made Gunwalloe a much more interesting place. If they only knew.

When Gabriel takes his wife for what is intended to be a leisurely brief holiday in London he is walking toward Covent Garden when he sees a man he believes is a suicide bomber. There have been two previous bombings in Paris and Copenhagen, therefor he is on alert. But just as he aims his weapon he’s knocked down so that all he could see “...was body parts and blood. It was Baghdad on the Thames.”

Sick at heart that he was unable to stop the carnage Gabriel returns to Cornwall only to be called back into service by the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence. There’s no doubt that the Covent Garden bombing was the third in a series and, in all probability orchestrated by Rashid al-Husseini, a cleric in Yemen who was born in America and was so convincing re his loyalty to the States that he once worked for the CIA. Rashid learned a great deal during that period and used that knowledge against America, soon preaching “..that the only way to deal with the West is to destroy it.”

It is Gabriel’s task to stop Rashid before there are any more deaths, and accomplish this while keeping his operation secret from everyone including the President.

A former journalist and television producer, Silva has crafted a novel so real, so timely that this reader soon began to feel a bit like she was reading a stunning newspaper account rather than fiction. Silva builds tension with architectural skill while the action jettisons from upscale auction houses to Washington power to the Saudi desert.

Pairing the skills of bestselling author Silva and superb voice performer Vance results in an edition of Portrait Of A Spy that is extraordinary in every sense of the word.

- Gail Cooke

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Susan Coley I totally agree with you about the narration! Everyone who enjoys the series would be bigger fans after listening to Vance.

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