It was one of those perfect fall weekends in Wisconsin. I would not have changed one thing about how it played out if given the ability. Saturday was sunny and warmish for an October day which allowed for a delightful drive to get a carload of squash from a farm market in the country. The annual trip was made complete with apple cider donuts! Sunday was perfection with brisk winds ushering in a damp chill which made the warmth of the oven as a Blue Hubbard baked feel like a scene from the cover of an old Saturday Evening Post.
What surrounded all the joys of the weekend, be it cups of afternoon coffee or late-night burrowing under a blanket, was the plotting and pacing of Daniel Silva as he mesmerized me with another in his Gabriel Allon series. During the pandemic, I reached out on social media to broaden my list of authors who write about espionage and spying along with tense international dramas. While I always have a few historical or biographical books going at any one time, I also much enjoy the John Le’ Carre type book. It was from around the nation, and even a kindly lady in Britain, where I came to know ‘new’ authors. I thank them all for the advice, and for being kind not to over-state ‘how could you not have read’ this or that author!
While I have become very engaged with a slew of the authors (as evidenced by my bookshelves) the reading idea that most impacted me with continuous smiles and adrenalin, came from a longtime friend, George Meyer, who also added a strong suggestion. Read Daniel Silva he said, after being somewhat surprised I had not already ventured down that path. But when you do, read the books in order. (Being OCD there was no worry about not reading them sequentially.) What I discovered, by the time the first half of the initial book in the series was completed, regarded how detailed the narrative continued to be concerning the place and feel of locations around the world. I was sensing the smell of the fog or the way the cobbled steps felt underfoot. Throw in abundant background and angst with Middle Eastern tensions and religions and I was on Amazon looking for the next several books in the order of their publication.
That was the effect Silva had on me from the start. The evolving nature of the lives of a few characters with the added depth of the past inter-relationships that played out on the pages of history is remarkable. Stepping back and just considering how he places all the people and events into a seamless narrative, but one we do not get to grasp until many of the books are under our belt, proves how epic his original plotting had to be for the series. I always am amused by the way authors plot a book, or better yet, a series. Silva is a master at the craft and one that needs to be experienced by those not having yet had the pleasure of opening one of his works.
Israeli intelligence and the workings of Mossad as it plays out against dastardly international crimes are like headlines ripped from the newspapers. Allon had his start eliminating the killers at the infamous Munich Olympics where Israeli athletes were held hostage and then killed. Leaving the service he slips into the world of being an art restorer, only to be pulled back into intelligence action by one of the most multi-dimensional characters I have found in many a book, Ari Shamron. Real life-spies can not have better stories to tell.
Since 2020 the following authors and series are ones that, after being recommended by others, made a strong impression to now take up space on my bookshelves. (This is why we have larger homes, right? Since the pandemic, James and I act as if our book budget is akin to parts of the U.S. defense appropriations…unlimited and off-budget.)
David Downing…(two series)…WWI….WWII