Daniel Silva has another riveting case featuring art restorer and
"retired" intelligence officer, Gabriel Allon, "Portrait of a Spy." (Harper, 512 pages.)
Europe is reeling from deadly bombings in Paris and Copenhagen. Allon is seconds away from killing a third bomber in the Covent Garden area of London when he is tackled by a policeman, thwarting his chance at preventing the bomber from carrying out his suicidal attack.
In a daring effort to sabotage the terrorists' financial network, Allon recruits a wealthy Saudi woman, Nadia al-Bakari, whose wealthy father had financed terrorism. The art restorer and heiress join in a perilous confrontation with Yemeni cleric, Malik al-Zubair, the supreme mastermind of terror.
The author deftly applies his knowledge of Renaissance art with an interesting assessment of current geopolitical affairs. He levels a few digs at the idealistic American President "Hope" and his clueless security advisor.
His insights into the fanaticism of Wahhabism are illuminating and the brutal treatment of women in Saudi Arabia is especially disturbing. Women cannot vote, drive a car, leave the house without being draped in an abaya and escorted by a male.
In short, Saudi women are little more than the property of their male relatives.
In his notes, the author insists this is a work of fiction, though the deadly alliance between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi zealots who dominate the ancestral land of the Prophet Mohammed is all too real.
A decade after the deadly 9-11 attacks in the United States, it has been disclosed that the Saudi connection in this deadly plot has never been fully investigated.
Silva's novel is an eye-opening look at the horrors of Islamic fundamentalism which the reader will not be able to set down or put out of his mind.