Daniel Silva: HOUSE OF SPIES
In Daniel Silva’s previous thriller The Black Widow, Israeli superspy Gabriel Allon lost Round One of his fight against Saladin, the new face of ISIS, whose suicide bombers devastated the historic centre of Washington DC. Now a series of bombings in London’s West End see Gabriel once again in harness with British and French Intelligence services to hunt down this Iraq-spawned successor to Osama bin Laden as the mastermind of terrorism.
As well as his usual team from 'The Office' (Silva’s version of Mossad) and MI6, Gabriel is reunited with Christopher Keller, hitman for the Corsican Mafia, a villain turned hero. The trail leads to a jet-set French hotelier who has a sideline dealing drugs and weapons; he and his English mistress have a taste for expensive artworks. Gabriel’s team mount an elaborate scam against the Frenchman, funded by millions of dollars lifted from the account of Syria’s President (whom Silva aptly calls “the Butcher of Damascus”).
The trail leads to Morocco, heartland of the hashish trade, and a violent confrontation in the Sahara. Where Silva excels, apart from the breathtaking pace and sheer elegance of his storytelling, is in the detail of location and character. Keller consults a Corsican ‘prophetess’ before he leaves the island: this outlandish woman is unnervingly believable – as is Saladin, the merchant of death and destruction.
ISIS, Al-Qaeda - you can change the name but not the message of hate. They are like the Hydra: cut off their head and they grow another. We may defeat them on the battlefield but their venomous ideology lives on in cyberspace and in the minds – and hearts – of those who embrace jihadism.