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Daniel Silva's "The Defector" is a sequel to "Moscow Rules," in which superspy Gabriel Allon and his team attempted to outsmart the sadistic Russian oligarch, Ivan Kharkov, with the help of Kharkov's disaffected wife, Elena. Kharkov, a former KGB agent, is a ruthless arms dealer who foments violence all over the world for profit. Of late, Allon has been living a placid life in an Italian villa under an assumed name along with his new wife, Chiara. He spends much of his time restoring priceless works of art for the Vatican. Unfortunately, his tranquil existence is rudely disrupted when Colonel Grigori Bulganov, former member of the Russian Federal Security Service and a defector to the west, suddenly disappears from London. Did Bulganov willingly return to Moscow to resume his old life? Allon, who knew the man well, firmly believes that this is an unlikely scenario, since Grigori not only hated the new Russia, but was also enjoying his life as a celebrity dissident. Gabriel fears that Kharkov must have orchestrated Grigori's abduction for reasons that will soon become apparent. When another key person vanishes, Allon, with the help of his former superior and advisor, eighty-year old Ari Shamron, as well as other poweful spymasters from England and America, arranges a complex extraction on Russian soil. If his plan should go awry, it could cost quite a few Jewish lives.

This is not one of Silva's finest efforts. Too much of this four-hundred and sixty-page novel is devoted to endless exposition, in which the author rehashes events from "Moscow Rules" and other earlier books. "The Defector" is almost entirely plot driven and populated by one-dimensional characters. The over-the-top scenes of torture and violence and the unimaginative dialogue do not help matters, nor does such hackneyed prose as "Blood was going to flow. And men were going to die." This is unchallenging and unoriginal action thriller in which Silva has little to say that he has not said before more eloquently. "The Defector" lacks the emotional heft, wrenching ethical dilemmas, and electrifying confrontations that have, in the past, made Silva's books so spellbinding.
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VINE VOICEon July 22, 2009
It seems that the State of Israel is having no trouble in the great wide world. Its most accomplished agent is once again free to pursue matters of personal honor, unencumbered by obligations to Mossad, and indeed aided by that legendary organization.

Daniel Silva's early thrillers - both the Gabriel Allon series and the three Michael Osbourne novels - are among my all-time favorite reads. The Prince of Fire is one of the two best thrillers I've ever read, and The Unlikely Spy is a richly researched nail-biter set in WWII London. But the last two Gabriel Allon books were below Silva's usual standard, far below. The Defector is better than those, but not up to the early work. There's very little of Italy here - or any other setting -- and virtually no art restoration, and I'm exceedingly sad to see that Silva is close to churning out a Pattersonesque formula thriller.

Here we go:

Part 1: something bad happens to someone Gabriel knows

Part 2: Gabriel assembles a team and mounts a complex plan to fix things (being a fan of planning, I like this part best, but it was sadly diminished here)

Part 3: Gabriel or Shamron forces the US or the UK to carry the can

Part 4: lots of blood; and more blood

Part 5: Gabriel and his support staff tie up loose ends with yet more blood

No surprises here, although Silva does forego Gabriel's seemingly obligatory trip to St Peters.

Any writer can have an off year, but this makes three off years for Silva. What's up with that?

One possible answer is that he's working from his files, rather than doing research. I wouldn't care, were Silva not so addicted to the use of the particular. Without research, the details suffer, of course. It doesn't really matter that the Queens Lane Coffee House has regular panes, not latticed windows or that Rectory Road runs uphill from the Cowley Road, but it does matter that Grigori is in the Harrow Road at 6:12 pm, planning to be at St George's Bloomsbury at 6:30 on a rainy January night in a plot where every minute is supposed to be significant. Unless he is The Winged Defector, there's no chance. (And that church, BTW, is not in New Oxford St, but Bloomsbury Row.)

OK, who cares? Well, if the rest of the book were more carefully put together, I wouldn't. But if a writer says that place and time are important, then he needs to be careful with both. Or simply make up everything.

The material about the Great Terror reads like an add-on. Other than those ominous references to parallel depressions in the earth, you'll never see this coming: it arises from neither the plot nor the characters. Yes, Ivan Kharkov is hastily endowed with a Stalin fixation, but that's clearly an afterthought. Silva needed something ideological to balance the body-count, so we get a quick lecture on Stalinist executions. The Afterword makes the case better than does the narrative, but with some more attention to character or plot lines, Silva could have had it both ways.

Sadly, his interest in anyone but Gabriel diminishes with each novel, it seems. And, as another reviewer points out, even Gabriel fails to develop internally.

When James Patterson runs out of plots, he has A Serial Killer Go After Alex Cross's Family. [!!!] It works every time, judging from sales, and that appears to be what Mr Silva going for.

One of the hardest things to sustain in a long series is a plausible threat. This is why so many series' feature the police or private detectives. Threats are their business. Surely the State of Israel hasn't run out of enemies, so why Silva insists on making the threat personal is, perhaps, the biggest mystery here.

Still, a bad-ish Silva is better than most things you can pick up to read on a hot summer's night. The Defector is better than the last two in this series, and the tension is ferocious for the last 150 pages, so enjoy.
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on August 4, 2009
I have read all of Silva's books, and I enjoy his writing style. However, he is starting to get boring and is going down the same path as Grisham turning out books as fast as possible to make a buck.

The Defector is the same old plot. Gabriel Allon is the reluctant spy who must come out of retirement to fight evil. Has occasional clashes with Shamron, his Israeli handler, who convinces him to go after the enemy. No surprises. Always happy ending.

Silva is a wonderful author. It's a shame he doesn't put much thought into his newer novels. I'll think twice about buying the next one.
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on August 3, 2009
Whereas MOSCOW RULES brings us fresh storylines and develops the
main characters with a flair for which Silva is known, this title
gets bogged down in certain areas, primarily due to the fact that
the author relies too much upon "wasting" one character after
another in a grim parade of Russian creeps who dare to cross Allon or interrupt his vendetta agendas in any one of many
European countries.
The violence is gratuitous and grounds for so many executions
are too superficial to be taken seriously by an attentive reader.
A hero with the gifts ascribed to Allon, the restorer of canvas
masterpieces and close buddy of the Pope, should be much more than a slick assassin. He's sensitive and loyal enough to his wife and friends for sure. But his bloodthirsty side feels like
nothing deeper than hits ordered wholesale by the likes of Tony
Soprano. I expected much more depth, more reasoning, more internal conflict and dialog. Not just one murder after another.
Better luck next time, Mr. Silva.
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on December 8, 2009
I first discovered Daniel Silva, when I read his bio on Amazon. It was interesting enough to cause me to purchase the Secret Servant. It was the novel that introduced me to not only Gabriel Allon, but Uzi Navot and and Ari Shamron as well. In my opinion it is the composite of these three charcters that makes the Allon series of books much much more then an exciting story of adventure, peril and intrigue.
I purchased The Defector from Amazon,pre publication,without the benefit of many reviews on the basis of my enjoyment of the Secret Servant. I was not disappointed.
The Defector, even though it contains references and characters from a previous book (Moscow Rules)stands on it own. The plot is full of enough twists, turns and cliff hangers,to cause most readers to stay up long past their bedtimes so as to prevent a restless night. For the most part the action is believable, and sometimes the good guys lose (welcome to the real world). It is definitely in the category of continuous read.
But what sets it apart from most books of this genre is the character development of Isreal's answer to the Three Musketeers, and their never ending angst over the age old question, "Do the ends justify the means?". I suspect after reading this book, you may well have to deal with your own angst.
I enjoyed this book so much, I immediately bought two more of the series from Amazon.
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on October 24, 2015
This novel starts in Rome.

Gabriel is now Alessio Vanelli, and is restoring a painting by Reni.

Grigori Bulganov, whom Gabriel assisted in defecting to London, has disappeared, and was last seen voluntarily getting into the back seat of a Mercedes limousine. British authorities believe he was a double agent all along, and has re-defected. They blame Gabriel, since he arranged his defection and brought him with him to London.

(After many very boring Chapters), Ari believes he has been kidnaped by Ivan Kharkov, as a ruse to lo0cate and kill Gabriel, who he blames stealing his children (by getting his wife and children to defect to America).

Ari sends Uzi to the galleria in Umbria, outside Rome, where Gabriel is restoring the Reni, to bring he and Chiara, (who has left voluntarily to visit her parents) back to Israel, where Ivan can't get at him, and brings two young bodyguards with him. Gabriel tells Uzi that he can't leave until he finishes restoring the Reni, and that he will complete the restoration in three days. Uzi tells Gabriel he will be back in three days, Uzi tells Gabriel he will be back in three days, and leaves the bodyguards to make sure he stays put.

Chiara returns, and asks Gabriel what his plans regarding Grigori are. Gabriel replies that he is going to find him, of course! Chiara deceives the two bodyguards for five days into believing that Gabriel is still in his studio restoring the Reni. Gabriel flies to London on the first day, however, to begin the search for Gregori. Meanwhile, a child is now growing in Chiara's womb.

I must admit that the required skimming of the many previous boring chapters requires that I, again, discourage readers from reading this novel, and give a discouraging rating, as I did in "The Moscow rules".

Chiara returns, and asks Gabriel what his plans regarding
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on December 1, 2013
another good book by Silva, it follows a trend that is very positive, it gives you a full story from the first book to this one. You can actually follow Allon in its will to destroy the enemy of his country, irregardless of their nationality. Looking forward to the next one. I am a slow reader
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on February 3, 2016
Like all of Silva's novels with the intriguing Gabriel Allon, The Defector is an exciting read that keeps you on your toes as Allon chases bad folks around the globe. Hard to stop reading this one as it grows more and more threatening with each passing chapter. If there's any disappointment, the ending felt a little pushed for space. A slower pace and a little more time in the closing scenes would have resonated better for me.
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on February 28, 2016
I have read the previous 8 books in the series and enjoyed them all. But Silva has clearly run out of ideas. This story was completely predictable unless you have not the read others. So if you are reading the series you will know exactly what is going to happen - no suspense. If you have not read the series this book will be a page turner and you will love it.
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on February 14, 2016
Once again Daniel Silva "brings home the bacon" in his continuing series of Gabriel Allon. For beautifully written books, compelling in their appealing characters and realistic and fresh, I cannot recommend this series more highly. For thriller-lovers, you get the best reads possible. These books rank with the best!
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