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Portrait of a Spy (Gabriel Allon Book 11) [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Silva
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (759 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“A bona fide thrill ride.”
Miami Herald
“Silva builds tension with breathtaking double and triple turns of plot.”
Portrait of a Spy is Silva’s eleventh thriller to feature art restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon as he races from Great Britain to Washington to New York to the Middle East on the trail of a deadly and elusive terrorist network responsible for massacres in Paris, Copenhagen, and at London’s Covent Garden.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Exclusive: Daniel Silva on Writing Portrait of a Spy with a Pencil

While on book tour, I’ve been surprised to find that readers are fascinated by how writers actually write. Most readers hold in their mind an idealized image of the novelist at work—a figure in a trendy urban coffeehouse, a solitary figure walking along an empty beach. The truth, however, is seldom so romantic.

Before going any further, let us stipulate that, much like the hero of my novels, the art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon, I am something of a creature of habit. I work seven days a week, from early in the morning until six thirty in the evening, when I stop to watch the evening news. My work clothing never varies: gray sweatpants by Russell Athletic, a long-sleeve T-shirt by L.L. Bean, fleece Acorn moccasins, and discount cotton socks from Marks & Spencer in England. Occasionally, visitors to our house will catch a glimpse of this outfit, but, for the most part, my wife and children tend to shield me from public view. As a rule, I don’t answer the telephone—unless it is a family emergency of some sort—and I don’t read e-mail. I nibble rather than eat. Portrait of a Spy, like all the Gabriel Allon novels, was fueled largely by McVitie’s digestive biscuits.

I have a computer, of course, but I really do most of my actual writing in longhand, on yellow legal pads. I prefer to work while lying on the floor rather than at my desk. This annoys my wife because she took a great deal of time and effort to have a desk custom made to fit my office. When I showed her a photograph of Muriel Spark, one of her literary heroes, writing in longhand stretched across a floor, she was only partially mollified. Sometimes we talk about living somewhere other than Georgetown. Secretly, the very idea terrifies me. After writing 14 books in the same room of the same house, I am afraid I have lost the ability to work anywhere else.

As for my writing instrument of choice, it is unquestionably the pencil. There is something about the sound it makes scratching across the page that, for me, is the essence of composition. The pencil is the antithesis of all things cyber and e, a means of returning, however briefly, to a world that is unconnected and unwired. A pad and pencil do not freeze or crash. There are no viruses or error messages. If a thunderstorm knocks out the power, the words will still be there when the lights come on again. And then, there is the satisfying natural rhythm of the work itself—the turning of the completed page, the sharpening of the dulled point, the fortnightly disposal of the fluffy wooden shavings.

Lately, I have been hoarding pencils. I’m not sure precisely when it began; I suspect it had something to do with the death of the typewriter. An irrational fear gripped me, a fear that pencils were next. If the typewriter could go extinct, how could the lowly, environmentally hostile pencil possibly hope to survive in the brave new world? I now order my favorite brand—the Paper Mate Mirado Black Warrior No. 2—by the case. I am reasonably confident I now have enough pencils on hand to see me through the next several novels—though, if I happen to misplace a pencil, I will search the house thoroughly before removing a new one from its special drawer and sharpening it for the first time. To sharpen a virgin pencil is, in a sense, to commit an act of assisted suicide. It saddens me.

I wish it were not so. I wish I could write on a computer while traveling on an airplane or sitting in a strange hotel room, but I cannot. I have become a prisoner of my office. I need my floor, and my Mirado Black Warrior No. 2 pencils, and my McVitie’s digestive biscuits. I hoard them, too. I keep them on a special shelf in the storage room, next to my socks from Marks & Spencer.

Copyright © Daniel Silva 2011. All Rights Reserved.


'Allon is the 21st century Bond - elegantly paced, subtle and well-informed. If you haven't read Silva before, try Portrait of a Spy - and then go back and read the series.' Daily Mail 'Sexily brooding Allon... must be the most famous superspy not played by Daniel Craig' Daily Telegraph '[A] top-notch thriller by a writer with the inside track on spying' The Sun 'In true Bauer fashion, shoot-outs, kidnappings and international terror plots follow Gabriel Allon wherever he goes' USA Today 'Silva builds tension with breathtaking double and triple turns of the plot' People

Product Details

  • File Size: 1139 KB
  • Print Length: 483 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,393 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
270 of 293 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good novel in the series... July 19, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Okay, here's the thing from a reviewer's viewpoint. You would probably not be reading the reviews of Daniel Silva's newest book in his Gabriel Allon spy series if you weren't already familiar with his writing. Silva's written 10 or so novels in the series and I think I've read most of them. And this one, "Portrait of a Spy" is a very good Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon book. But it is similar to all the others I've read. And for me, a reviewer, it's a difficult book to review for that reason.

Daniel Silva is deeply concerned with the Middle East and the problems with radical Islamism that have risen from there in the last 60 years or so. Silva uses his books - characters and plots - to speak intelligently about those problems and the repercussions - terrorist bombings in both the Middle East countries and in Europe. Silva seems to publish a new book in the series every July. Now, this year and this book, 2011 and "Portrait of a Spy", pose a fairly tricky problem for Daniel Silva. How much of the "Arab Spring" - which actually began in mid-December, 2010 - does he include in his story? And does he include the assassination of Bin Ladin, which occurred fairly close to the time of publication? I could tell that he makes reference to Bin Ladin's death in a line towards the end where the text could still be changed in final proofs. The "Arab Spring" is mentioned towards the end. That's the problem he may have faced with the plot. But it's with the characters he's really facing problems.

Gabriel Allon has not changed much in the 15 or so years he's been the subject of Daniel Silva's pen. And Chiara, his younger Italian wife is still gorgeous. They are still trying to retire to the English countryside and really go back to art restoration.
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98 of 110 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Gabriel Allon is on site and fails to stop a terrorist attack in London. He leaves his Cornish retirement to help a CIA ally eradicate the network that executed the attack, as well as the operational mastermind and inspiration of said network. Ultimately Gabriel lives and triumphs...which should surprise no one. Entertaining, somewhat engrossing, extremely well written, Portrait of a Spy was not all I hoped it would be. I can handle the Allon books being cookie cutter plots, but the books are so well written that I enjoy the ride even though. However, what begins as a really clever idea is not carried through by the author. Silva had the chance to break from the mold of the last few books and he chose not to.

On the cookie cutter front, we have the standard Allon associates-Shamron, Uri, the Allon Team, and now extended elements in the CIA and the world of broadcast news. We have world class bad guys with an agenda...but the new trick is that the bad guys will be found by routing funds to them with the help of the daughter of...a man Allon killed and who dies in the arms of the daughter Allon wants help from.

If there is a weakness in the Allon series, it may be how anyone who is asked feels compelled to help Allon, and in the course of working with/for him they come to see him as being wonderful...even here. No one comes away feeling used or bitter or in any way conflicted or angry. That is the opportunity Silva misses in Portrait of a Spy.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the eleventh thriller in the Gabriel Allon series, Silva has the art restorer/supposedly retired spy-assassin involved in a confrontation with the new face of global terror; a person who was once a paid CIA asset.

Typical in all books in this series, Allon and his team (involving most of the cast of characters that have appeared in previous books in the series) devise an intricate plan laden with risk to thwart the terrorist and his network from carrying out more devasting attacks across the globe. Also reminiscent of most books in this series, the plot in Silva's Portrait Of A Spy combines the worlds of art and intelligence in a way that seems that the stories are ripped from yesterday's newspaper headlines. And, of course, consistent in a Silva thriller, his latest book is one of slow-building but non-stop tension and suspense that will likely make the reader anxious to turn the pages to find out what happens next.

In the absolute, I enjoyed Portrait Of A Spy very much and consider it, as I have all of the other books featuring Gabriel Allon, to be engrossing, well-researched and well-written. However, on a comparative basis, my level of enjoyment has dropped a notch. In small part, this is due to the action that occurs being not quite as intense as in some of the other books in the series. The larger factor contributing to my comparative drop in enjoyment is that, after reading all eleven of the Gabriel Allon books, the successful formula on which Silva has based his series is "showing some superficial age lines" and the development of his main and key supporting characters need some refreshening. As such, I would not be disappointed if Silva's next book is a stand-alone.

Despite these comparative criticisms, I still consider Silva to be the "gold standard" of thriller writers. For me, there has never been a risk involved in reading a Silva book, with the only unknown being whether the book will be very good or excellent.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Enough is Enough
I throughly enjoyed reading Daniel Silva's early books. Then I have been faithfully reading each new book. However, they have become very repetitive and boring lately. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Unal Norman
5.0 out of 5 stars best of the series
This book was great. I have read 3-4 others in this series and this is the best. We'll written, fascinating. A real page turner. I couldn't put it down.
Published 1 day ago by Linda E Paul
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Your Time on Many Levels
Along with "The Heist" , the best of Silva's recent Gaibriel A. ,,,,'llllon romps. The art material woven in throughout the story is fascinating. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Richabel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another good one from Daniel Silva
Published 5 days ago by Joan W. Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Lots of the usual twists and turns -- but not one of Silva's.
Published 6 days ago by Joseph Byck
5.0 out of 5 stars His best ever book in this series
This would be the 6 or 7th book in the Gabriel Allon series that I have read. I feel it is his best by far. Read more
Published 8 days ago by David R
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book!
Published 8 days ago by stephen c
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I've read all the Gabriel Allon series & love them!
Published 8 days ago by Mary Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful like all Daniel Silva's books
Wonderful like all Daniel Silva's books!...But I am beginning to think he has a template for them.......Gabriel is a Israeli James Bond!!
Published 9 days ago by mabell525
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this one having read two of his other books
I enjoyed this one having read two of his other books. The story telling is done extremely well. I have started The Confessor, I found I was still interested in reading him. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Kathleen Papariello
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More About the Author

He has been called his generation's finest writer of international intrigue and one of the greatest American spy novelists ever. Compelling, passionate, haunting, brilliant: these are the words that have been used to describe the work of #1 New York Times-bestselling author Daniel Silva.

Silva burst onto the scene in 1997 with his electrifying bestselling debut, The Unlikely Spy, a novel of love and deception set around the Allied invasion of France in World War II. His second and third novels, The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season, were also instant New York Times bestsellers and starred two of Silva's most memorable characters: CIA officer Michael Osbourne and international hit man Jean-Paul Delaroche. But it was Silva's fourth novel, The Kill Artist, which would alter the course of his career. The novel featured a character described as one of the most memorable and compelling in contemporary fiction, the art restorer and sometime Israeli secret agent Gabriel Allon, and though Silva did not realize it at the time, Gabriel's adventures had only just begun. Gabriel Allon appears in Silva's next nine novels, each one more successful than the last: The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, and Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, and The Defector. Silva's forthcoming novel, The Rembrandt Affair, will be published on July 20, 2010.

Silva knew from a very early age that he wanted to become a writer, but his first profession would be journalism. Born in Michigan, raised and educated in California, he was pursuing a master's degree in international relations when he received a temporary job offer from United Press International to help cover the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Later that year Silva abandoned his studies and joined UPI fulltime, working first in San Francisco, then on the foreign desk in Washington, and finally as Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf. In 1987, while covering the Iran-Iraq war, he met NBC Today National Correspondent Jamie Gangel and they were married later that year. Silva returned to Washington and went to work for CNN and became Executive Producer of its talk show unit including shows like Crossfire, Capital Gang and Reliable Sources.

In 1995 he confessed to Jamie that his true ambition was to be a novelist. With her support and encouragement he secretly began work on the manuscript that would eventually become the instant bestseller The Unlikely Spy. He left CNN in 1997 after the book's successful publication and began writing full time. Since then all of Silva's books have been New York Times and international bestsellers. His books have been translated in to more than 25 languages and are published around the world. Silva continues to reside in Washington with his wife and teenage twins Lily and Nicholas. When not writing he can usually be found roaming the stacks of the Georgetown University library, where he does much of the research for his books. He is currently at work on a new Gabriel Allon novel and warmly thanks all those friends and loyal readers who have helped to make the series such an amazing success.

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