Jacqie's Reviews > The Messenger

The Messenger by Daniel Silva
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's review
Jul 25, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: didnt-finish

Didn't read much at all, actually. Maybe if I'd tried the first book in the series it would have worked better? But this was for a book club and I just dove in.

The Cold War they're-out-to-kill-us-all mentality of the bad guys (all Muslim, of course) and good guys didn't do it for me. Maybe this makes me no different than the appeasement policy proponents during WWII and I'm horribly, horribly naive. But I really didn't care for all the scare-mongering about Islam. I'm sure that Muslim terrorists make for great bad guys. But the writing felt stilted, the hero seemed like he had a stick up his ass, and I didn't buy into the urgency. So black and white.

Everyone but one character with actual lines was ridiculously good looking, from the Al-Quaeda recruiter to our hero to the priest that he works with. Everyone was tall and slim, with either a cleft in the chin (seriously) or shocking emerald eyes. The Jewish prime minister-ish guy, on the other hand, was a caricature, even rudely and mercantile-ly (yes, it's a word now) asking our hero exactly how much money he was making for restoring a painting.

Our hero had hair salted with grey at the temples- prematurely? However, he was involved in the hunting down of the assassins of the Jewish athletes in 1974 so he has to be at least 50 in this 2006 book, right? Or is the book set back in time? Why can't this 50 year old hero keep his girlfriend? The author seems to have a real thing for Italian women.

I like novels like Le Carre's, that get into the ambiguity and moral compromises that go along with spying. There's betrayal of trust, there's boredom, there's doubt. Except this author doesn't do any of those interesting things. I never got into the hero's head at all. Everything was us-vs-them, and no shades of gray. That might make for a good popcorn read if I was in the right mood, and if the racism, bigotry and utter lack of attention to women in the first 30 pages of the book hadn't made it too unpleasant of a reading experience for even that much.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Daniel Maybe if you took time to read the first book and read them sequentially you'll see the depth Silva puts into the story: not just good guys and bad, but actually into his writing. Yes, Gabriel prematurely greyed at the temples and yes he's supposed to be at least 50 at this point in the series. He juxtaposes the Islam/Muslim conflict because he's writing with the protagonists as Israeli from their point of view. It's just like if it were a Cold War novel it would be USA vs USSR. That's how he sets his universe and his characters. Maybe it didn't do it for you, but don't give it a one star rating because you started with the SIXTH book in the series and you didn't get really all of the backstory.

Daniel Also Gabriel is the only one with "shocking emerald eyes".

message 3: by Stina (new) - added it

Stina I'm with Jacqie. I've actually studied the sociology of terrorism in some depth, and I was excited about reading this book, hoping that it would provide fresh insights into the longstanding conflicts in the Middle East. No such luck.

Judy Laird If you like Le Carre's tediously boring books then you're not going to like Silva's thrilling 'edge of your seat' stories.

Jacqie Judy wrote: "If you like Le Carre's tediously boring books then you're not going to like Silva's thrilling 'edge of your seat' stories."

That is certainly one perspective.

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