Artful spy

For the eighth time, Daniel Silva has produced an outstanding spy novel featuring Gabriel Allon, a secret Mossad agent who lives in Italy.

moscow book 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
moscow book 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Moscow Rules By Daniel Silva Penguin 433 Pages; $26.05 For the eighth time, Daniel Silva has produced an outstanding spy novel featuring Gabriel Allon, secret Mossad agent who lives in Italy as an art restorer. Silva continues to expand his well-deserved reputation as a master of espionage and international intrigue. Beginning in 1997, he produced three best-selling spy stories and then began the Gabriel Allon series which has brought him worldwide recognition as a master of this genre. In Moscow Rules, Silva begins with Allon working on the restoration of a painting. The setting is an isolated estate in Umbria where Allon is joined by his new bride who is introduced by the pseudonym of Francesca. Their honeymoon idyll is interrupted by Uzi Navot, "chief of Special Ops" for Mossad, who asks Allon to meet in Rome with a Russian magazine editor who wants to relay a message concerning a threat to Israel and the United States. Allon reluctantly agrees to accept the assignment since the Israelis are seriously concerned about rumors that the Russians are selling sophisticated weapons systems to Arabs and others. The carefully planned meeting ends in disaster when the Russian is assassinated at their clandestine rendezvous. Allon is sent to Russia to find out what the deceased editor wanted to tell. He is disguised as Natan Golani, a functionary in the Israeli Culture Ministry who is attending a UNESCO conference in Moscow in place of the deputy minister who has been conveniently taken ill. During Allon's perilous adventures in Russia, he is bound by "Moscow rules" which hold that he has to assume that all phones are tapped, all rooms are bugged, e-mails and conversations are all monitored, everyone he meets is under Russian control and he is always being followed. While assiduously observing these rules, Allon discovers that Ivan Kharkov, a former KGB officer now a very rich businessman and secret arms dealer, is plotting to sell deadly weapons to al-Qaida. To prevent a death-dealing act of terror, Allon has to work fast to prevent Kharkov from carrying out his nefarious transaction. Working with an unexpected ally, Allon travels from place to place - England, the US, France, Russia, and Italy. He has a hair-raising series of adventures that will keep readers glued to the book even though they know that all will eventually be well. Moscow Rules is a further demonstration of Silva's consummate talents as an extremely gifted master of the espionage story. His meticulous research gives credence to his message about the efforts of Russia to regain its status as a superpower. This searing story will appeal to all of Silva's many fans and, if someone is so unfortunate as to be not familiar with his work, it will serve as a powerful introduction. The writer is the founding dean of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, and dean emeritus of the School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.