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The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon) Hardcover – July 24, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Gabriel Allon
  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1st edition (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399154221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399154225
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
A terrorist plot in London leads Israeli spy Gabriel Allon on a desperate search for a kidnapped woman, in a race against time that will compromise Allon’s own conscience—and life...

Amazon Exclusive Essay: Daniel Silva on Gabriel Allon and the "Accidental Series"

Writers tend to be solitary creatures. We toil alone for months on end, then, once a year, we emerge from our dens to publish a book. It can be a daunting experience, especially for someone like me, who is not gregarious and outgoing by nature. But there is one aspect of promotion I truly love: meeting my readers and answering their questions. During each stop on my book tour, I reserve the bulk of my time for a lively conversation with the audience. I learn much from these encounters-indeed, some of the comments are so insightful they take my breath away. There is one question I am asked each night without fail, and it remains my favorite: "How in the world did you ever think of Gabriel Allon?" The answer is complicated. In one sense, he was the result of a long, character-construction process. In another, he was a bolt from the blue. I'll try to explain.

In 1999, after publishing The Marching Season, the second book in the Michael Osbourne series, I decided it was time for a change. We were nearing the end of the Clinton administration, and the president was about to embark on a last-ditch effort to bring peace to the Middle East. I had the broad outlines of a story in mind: a retired Israeli assassin is summoned from retirement to track down a Palestinian terrorist bent on destroying the Oslo peace process. I thought long and hard before giving the Israeli a name. I wanted it to be biblical, like my own, and to be heavy with symbolism. I finally decided to name him after the archangel Gabriel. As for his family name, I chose something short and simple: Allon, which means "oak tree" in Hebrew. I liked the image it conveyed. Gabriel Allon: God's angel of vengeance, solid as an oak.

Gabriel's professional résumé-the operations he had carried out-came quickly. But what about his other side? What did he like to do in his spare time? What was his cover? I knew I wanted something distinct. Something memorable. Something that would, in many respects, be the dominant attribute of his character. I spent many frustrating days mulling over and rejecting possibilities. Then, while walking along one of Georgetown's famous redbrick sidewalks, my wife, Jamie, reminded me that we had a dinner date that evening at the home of David Bull, a man regarded as one of the finest art restorers in the world. I stopped dead in my tracks and raised my hands toward the heavens. Gabriel Allon was complete. He was going to be an art restorer, and a very good one at that.

Over my objections, the book was entitled The Kill Artist and it would go on to become a New York Times bestseller. It was not, however, supposed to be the first book in a long-running series. But once again, fate intervened. In 2000, after moving to G.P. Putnam & Sons, my new publishers asked me what I was working on. When I mumbled something about having whittled it down to two or three options, they offered their first piece of advice. They really didn't care what it was about, they just wanted one thing: Gabriel Allon.

I then spent the next several minutes listing all the reasons why Gabriel, now regarded as one of the most compelling and successful continuing characters in the mystery-thriller genre, should never appear in a second book. I had conceived him as a "one off" character, meaning he would be featured in one story and then ride into the sunset. I also thought he was too melancholy and withdrawn to build a series around, and, at nearly fifty years of age, perhaps a bit too old as well. My biggest concern, however, had to do with his nationality and religion. I thought there was far too much opposition to Israel in the world-and far too much raw anti-Semitism-for an Israeli continuing character ever to be successful in the long term.

My new publishers thought otherwise, and told me so. Because Gabriel lived in Europe and could pass as German or Italian, they believed he came across as more "international" than Israeli. But what they really liked was Gabriel's other job: art restoration. They found the two opposing sides of his character-destroyer and healer-fascinating. What's more, they believed he would stand alone on the literary landscape. There were lots of CIA officers running around saving the world, they argued, but no former Israeli assassins who spent their spare time restoring Bellini altarpieces.

The more they talked, the more I could see their point. I told them I had an idea for a story involving Nazi art looting during the Second World War and the scandalous activities of Swiss banks. "Write it with Gabriel Allon," they said, "and we promise it will be your biggest-selling book yet." Eventually, the book would be called The English Assassin, and, just as Putnam predicted, it sold twice as many copies as its predecessor. Oddly enough, when it came time to write the next book, I still wasn't convinced it should be another Gabriel novel. Though it seems difficult to imagine now, I actually conceived the plot of The Confessor without him in mind. Fortunately, my editor, Neil Nyren, saved me from myself. The book landed at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and received some of the warmest reviews of my career. After that, a series was truly born.

I am often asked whether it is necessary to read the novels in sequence. The answer is no, but it probably doesn't hurt, either. For the record, the order of publication is The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, and Moscow Rules, my first #1 New York Times bestseller. The Defector pits Gabriel in a final, dramatic confrontation with the Russian oligarch and arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, and I have been told it far surpasses anything that has come before it in the series. And to think that, if I'd had my way, only one Gabriel Allon book would have been written. I remain convinced, however, that had I set out in the beginning to create him as a continuing character, I would surely have failed. I have always believed in the power of serendipity. Art, like life, rarely goes according to plan. Gabriel Allon is proof of that.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bestseller Silva's superlative seventh novel to feature Gabriel Allon, the legendary but wayward son of Israeli Intelligence, puts Silva squarely atop the spy thriller heap. When Solomon Rosner, a professor in Amsterdam who's also a secret Israeli asset, is assassinated for his strident reports and articles detailing the dangers of militant Islam within the Netherlands, Gabriel gets the job to clean out the professor's files. In Amsterdam, the Israeli agent and his old partner, Eli Lavon, unearth a plot that leads to the kidnapping by Islamic extremists of the daughter of the U.S. ambassador in London. While most intelligence agencies consider Gabriel persona non grata because of his unorthodox methods and the trail of bodies he leaves in his wake, he once again proves invaluable as he and his stalwart team hunt down some of Israel's—and the world's—most violent enemies. While you don't have to have read the earlier books in the series (The Messenger, etc.), knowing the history of the returning characters adds depth and color to the overall story. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

This is an outstanding Gabriel Allon novel by Daniel Silva, one of his best.
Dr. C
I have now read a total of 9 of Daniel Silva's books and they continue to show excellent character development, historical context and a riveting story style.
David Payne
His books maintain very good continuity with the characters in each story and plots he develops.
Rudy Valois

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on September 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Daniel Silva has yet again written a novel that at the same time will entertain and scare the hell out of you; a novel as well researched and believable as LeCarre in his Cold War glory days, but moving at the pace of Follett or Forsythe at the top of their story-telling skills.

In "The Secret Servant", Gabriel Allon, the avenging angel of Israel's formidable secret service, is back to do battle again with the ever-rising tide of radical Islam terrorism. Sent to Amsterdam on a seemingly routine mission to clean up after an assassinated undercover agent, Allon unwittingly uncovers an Al Qaeda-like plot which leads him to London and Elizabeth Halton, the daughter of the US Ambassador to The United Kingdom. Unable - barely - to thwart Elizabeth's kidnapping, Allon sets out with his familiar cast of "citizens of the night" from Tel Aviv's intelligence service, taking him on what I thought his most challenging and harrowing assignment since the days of his youth when he was summoned to wreck vengeance on the Black September perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

While the main course in "Secret Service" is harrowing suspense and action, told with brutal force and free-flowing blood, the venue here is the very real and very dangerous Islamification of Europe. And while Silva's popularity certainly suffers from blunt talk that may offend the more sensitive or liberal-minded readers, this is a straightforward and intelligent dissection of the threats facing the west today.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By John R. Linnell on August 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started my last review of a Silva book by noting that whatever else one says about him, he does not sugar coat his message. After finishing his seventh novel involving the Israeli art restorer, assassin and intelligence officer, Gabriel Allon, I can reliably report that nothing has changed.

In the story that unfolds is the very a very grim depiction of what is becoming the "Islamification" of Europe.

In the opening chapter an Israeli asset by the name of Solomon Rosner, a professor of scociology at the University of Amsterdam has caused a bit of a stir by writing a book entitled, "The Islamic Conquest of the West." In the book Rosner argues that Holland is currently under a sustained and systematic attack by jihadist Islam, the goal of which is to turn it into a majority Muslim state. The Dutch press looked upon the warning as "hysterical claptrap" and pronounced that what the situation needed was tolerance and dialogue. The book and the Dutch response to it made Rosner the most vilified and most celebrated man in Holland. An imam instructed his following that "Rosner the Jew must be dealt with harshly."
He was. Murdered on the street.

That murder sets in motion a series of events which involves Allon in trying to thwart the terrorists plans. The story is fast paced, intriguing, inormative and scary. Typical Silva, which means a fine read is in store for those that venture into the world according to this author, which unfortunately is a world we are all slowly coming to recognize.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steven Masters on September 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like to follow a character through several novels, Jack Ryan, Scott Harvath, Alex Hawke to name a few. I like authors who do the research for what's going on in todays world. Often these plot lines are based on sources inside intelligent services with deferance to security of course. Bottom line, most of this stuff is happening somewhere in the world. This was the first novel by Daniel Silva i have read and I'm hooked, going to buy the rest. Very nicely paced, great action and intrigue. Picked it up on a recomendation on the radio, finished it in 3 days. Buy it.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is not a bad novel by any means, but readers expecting a fast paced and suspenseful thriller - as I was - may be left feeling disappointed.

The first half of the book was great. It felt realistic, compelling and tense. However the action ground to a halt around the midway mark. (My husband actually gave up on it at this point). It continued in fits and starts, but there's something kind of wrong when you're 70 pages from the end of a thriller and don't feel compelled to see how it's going to finish. The ending dragged on and was underwhelming.

I also felt that the book was let down by the leaden dialogue - people speaking in explanations, saying things like: "you mean the covenant that forbids you from operating on European soil without first obtaining permission from the security service of the country involved" or "Islamic extremism is just the latest virus to thrive in Europe's nurturing environment" - people don't talk like that! On the other hand, Daniel Silva is very good at conveying a sense of location and I felt he nailed the mindset of an Israeli secret service agent.

I should mention that this was the first novel by Silva that I have read. In itself that did not affect my enjoyment of this book, although there did seem to be a lot of conversations between characters referring to action that took place in previous Gabriel Allon outings and if you are new to the series, it would probably be better to start with an earlier novel.
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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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