Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath

Title:            Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath

Author:        Peter Telep

Telep, Peter (2013). Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath. New York: Berkley Books

LCCN:    2014656199

PS 3570 .E447 T665 2013



  • “Based on Ubisoft’s bestselling game, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell”–Back cover.

Date Posted:      June 7, 2017

Review from Amazon[1]

Peter Telep has presented a series of edge of the chair excitement and intrigue that are real page turners. There are a few similarities between the Splinter Cell series and the Endwar series. I have read both series and thoroughly enjoyed each one. Aftermath is the latest and it keeps you involved from the first page to the last. The only confusion that I have is the involvement of the Snow Maiden here and in The Missing (Endwar). I had just finished Missing before reading Aftermath. The final disposition of the Snow Maiden is different in each story. Keeping them separated was a challenge, but did not detract from either story. If you like lots of action on the international stage, then these two series are great reads. Even though Tom Clancy is no longer with us, his legacy is being carried on ably by Mr. Telep. Keep them coming.

[1] By Bob Oursleron (August 17, 2014) on Amazon.

The English Assassin

Title:                      The English Assassin

Author:                Daniel Silva

Silva, Daniel (2002) The English Assassin. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2001048488

PS3619.I5443 E54 2002b


Date Updated:  August 18, 2017

Review by Janet Maslin[1]

If a book could send picture postcards, The English Assassin would be in a fine position to do so. Daniel Silva’s swift new spy novel achieves a level of globe-trotting that any tourist would admire. London, Paris and Rome are obligatory stopping points, but the story has its roots in the Middle East. It also spends much of its time in Switzerland, where important events take place at a lavish mega-chalet. One of the book’s main characters lives in Portugal, another in the English countryside.

A remote Corsican village is the home of the title character. He may be an accomplished throat slasher, a man “who had been trained by the most efficient killers on the planet,” but he still has a healthy respect for local traditions. After each dirty deed, he finds time to visit an old woman who claims she can absolve his sins and chase away the Evil Eye.

In a thriller like this, he keeps her busy. The English Assassin is a cloak-and-dagger tale that finds much use for the Englishman’s services, even as it pits him against an equally dangerous Israeli operative, Gabriel Allon. Gabriel was also the hero of The Kill Artist[2], which established the format for this one.

As the earlier book’s title indicates, art and mayhem go hand in hand for Mr. Silva. Gabriel has long been known as being “nearly as good with a gun as he was with a paintbrush,” and he is skilled at restoring museum-quality work when he isn’t dodging hit men. This time, with a nod to the world of classical music, Mr. Silva is able to work at least one Stradivarius into his story, too.

The English Assassin is written in a nimble, efficient style that allows Mr. Silva to cover a lot of terrain. If his version of the world of espionage is less complex and nuanced than that of Alan Furst or John le Carré, it is still an envelopingly treacherous place. Having worked in the Middle East as a correspondent for United Press International and a producer for CNN, he describes an Israeli spy network of great ingenuity, though The Kill Artist emphasized that realm more. This time the action is centered in Switzerland. That nation itself is essentially the book’s villain.

Gabriel is sent to Zurich in his guise as an art restorer and told to meet with a collector named Augustus Rolfe. “The Oriental carpet was faded and very old, and so was the dead man sprawled in the center of it,” Mr. Silva writes of Gabriel’s arrival at Rolfe’s heavily secured home. So much for Rolfe. And as for his wife, Marguerite, she has committed suicide in the book’s prologue after having discovered a terrible secret about her husband. It’s the kind of secret that might have made killing him a better idea, but never mind.

As Gabriel quickly discovers, Rolfe’s house is well protected for a reason. He appears to have been harboring stolen art, with works by Degas, Picasso, van Gogh and more of great art’s usual suspects in a private museum. Why? How? The trail of contraband leads through the world of Swiss banking into the trove of art confiscated by the Nazis.

The book assails the kind of legal system that makes it possible to keep such things hidden. “Switzerland is not a real country,” one of the book’s minor characters tells Gabriel. “It’s a business, and it’s run like a business.” Not for nothing does this book begin with a dictionary definition of gnome (“small, misshapen, dwarflike beings, supposed to dwell in the earth and guard its treasures”).

Conveniently for the book’s emphasis on cultivation, the Rolfes’ daughter turns out to be a beautiful, renowned violinist, Stradivarius and all. So Gabriel joins forces with Anna Rolfe to find her father’s killer, even as the English assassin is hired to watch their every move. As with many stories in this genre, the plot’s destination is of no greater interest than the schemers’ ingenious ways of arriving there. In this case, that means “the miniature supercardioid microphone held by the man dressed as a priest” and assorted bugs, bombs and ambushes. This may not be a moment when violent intrigue makes ideal escapism, but Mr. Silva excitingly delivers his story’s twists and turns.

The English Assassin moves at a brisk clip, with clean, lucid exposition and characters who are thoughtfully drawn. Gabriel may have the inevitable tragic history (a bomb in Vienna that destroyed his family), but he also has attractive aplomb. When recruited for this case by the Israeli intelligence chief, he replies: “Find someone else, Ari. Investigating murder cases was never my specialty. Actually, thanks to you, I excelled at quite the other thing.” That’s an artful way of putting it, from an author who knows his way around art.

[1] Janet Maslin, BOOKS OF THE TIMES; “Art and Throat Slashing: a World Tour,” New York Times (March 11, 2002)

[2] Silva, Daniel (2000). The Kill Artist: A Novel. New York: Random House


Portrait of a Spy

Title:                      Portrait of a Spy

Author:                Daniel Silva

Silva, Daniel (2011). Portrait of a Spy. New York: Harper

LCCN:    2011030741

PS3619.I5443 P67 2011


  • After failing to stop a suicide bomber attack in London, master art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon is summoned by the CIA and is faced with an organization riddled with dissent–and ill-equipped to deal with the deadly new face of global jihadist terror.


Date Posted:      January 4, 2017

Reviewed by Judith Reveal[1]

When Giovanni Rossi, an artist and art restoration professional takes his wife, Chiara, to London, he is swept up in a suicide bombing at Covent Garden that embroils him in a series of schemes designed to foil the number one terrorist in the Islamic world. In Rossi’s real world, he is a legendary Israeli intelligence officer, Gabriel Allon, a role that places him squarely in the middle of the problem.

Back at his home in the small village of Gunwalloe Cove, Cornwall, Gabriel finds his quiet life thrown into turmoil when the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service informs him that he is now being called back into service. The bombing in Covent Garden is determined to be the third in a string of bombings, the first in Paris and the second in Copenhagen, that are seen as the work of a charismatic American-born cleric, whose ability to entice new members to the jihadist movement grows with each new attack. Gabriel’s assignment: to design a plan to prevent this man’s ongoing terrorist activities.

To accomplish this goal, Gabriel brings in a team of specialists and as the plan unfolds, its success or failure depends on the recruitment of Nadia al-Bakari, a wealthy Middle Eastern businesswoman. The relationship between Gabriel and Nadia is complicated, as Gabriel happened to have assassinated her father many years earlier, but her compassion for the plight of Middle Eastern women plus her hatred of terrorism are the contributing factors to her participation. As the plan takes shape, Gabriel’s major concern becomes the safety of his primary “spy,” a challenge made more difficult by her ever-present body guard, a man whose beliefs remain tied to established Islamic ways.

It is not long before the details of the plan come to the attention of the Americans. The CIA makes its presence known and takes the reins through its funding and technology. Soon politics enter the fray as the Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, and the Assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism join in. Although Gabriel is assigned to work with the Director, the dabbling fingers of homeland security are never far away, always stirring the pot.

All pieces of the puzzle are securely in place and move without the proverbial hitch, until the last moment, when Nadia is kidnapped by the very terrorists she and Gabriel have set out to foil, and it now becomes Gabriel’s responsibility to find her and save her.

The plan, like a maze of well-clipped yew trees, twists and turns as it moves toward the inevitable ending, and yet like all mazes, a wrong turn can spell disaster—and that wrong turn appears in the character of a small player in Washington, DC, who is dissatisfied with his life, his home, and most of all, with the CIA. Unknown to Gabriel, this player is forcing the wrong turn in the maze that could result in failure.

Daniel Silva writes with a clarity not seen by many of today’s writers. He has designed a delicious plot that moves with the speed of light. Each chapter leaves the reader teetering on the edge of the cliff, not sure how Gabriel and his team will save their plan from destruction. Mr. Silva’s choice of words in both narrative and description is precise to the picture he is painting or the message he is sending, and he puts the reader in the middle of the action at all times—never sitting on the sideline watching, but actually participating in the story.

Gabriel Allon is a serial character familiar to Mr. Silva’s fans, and Gabriel’s role in Portrait of a Spy does not disappoint those who follow this involved and cleverly designed plot. Author Silva deftly steers the reader through the cliffs of Cornwall, the dark technology-riddled rooms of Washington, the brightly lit art galleries of London, and seedy tents of Saudi Arabia’s deserts—all of which Gabriel must navigate in order to bring the plan to a satisfying conclusion. Mr. Silva proves once again that he is one of the premier writers of espionage as he presents his story with an edgy darkness that catches our breath and then takes it away from us altogether.

[1] Judith Reveal, at New York Journal of Books. Downloaded January 4, 2017