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Portrait of a Spy

Portrait of a Spy - Daniel Silva I feel like I ordered an ice-cream sundae and received a plate of whipped cream. It went down easily, I finished it, but something lacked substance, some critical ingredient went missing. James Bond without the martinis and cartoony villains? Jason Bourne without the picturesque small-European-car chases through French villages? Le Carre without the cynic's realization that the good guys are scarcely better than the bad? Somehow or another Silva has managed to write a spy novel that lacks either the superficial layer of charm or the devastating political undertone. Yet every page was packed with thrills, and perhaps on a sheer thrills per word count basis, Silva might be the best practicing spy novelist alive. (I'm not sure for certain, as I don't read that many thrillers. This may change...)

If I should start with something positive, it's that Silva's experience with Beltway newsrooms means he has crafted characters whose politics are absolutely in line with the real world. There is no evil S.P.E.C.T.R.E. lurking around the corner nor does EVIL Inc. plan to raise money off the stock market to finance a shooting -- people's politics are exactly where they tend to be, and conspiracy buffs play a small but real component of some conversations whereas professionals in each field also make the decisions they have to make at various intervals. The Jews, ironically enough, do suck everyone dry <--ironic for a Western novel,<--- but then of course the terrorists themselves don't hesitate to bring out the butcher knives.</spoiler>

This book was 2.99 on iBooks. Silva is clearly hoping to introduce a new cohort of readers to the series that is already underway, and in that regard, he's succeeded. I do want to check out some of his other works, it's just a question of whether I can go to 9.99 for a one-read thriller, whereas I have no problem doing that for a twenty-read literary fiction novel. Western readers with access to a library should probably check this book out first, and then jump in; those whose jobs take them far from free reading libraries probably need to make a dollar-time-word count assessment, and then decide whether they're going to become a Silva fanatic.

Unusual for #jewishhero #jewishspy.