Cannonball Read #11: The Defector


Daniel Silva’s The Defector is the latest in his series about Mossad assassin and art restorer, Gabriel Allon, and is a direct follow-up to Moscow Rules. In Moscow Rules, Gabriel had outsmarted a Russian arms dealer with a fake Mary Cassatt painting, and now the Russian seeks revenge.

The character, Gabriel Allon, was an assassin for the Israeli government and lead a team who avenged the deaths of the Israeli athletes killed at the Munich Olympics. While on a misison in Vienna for the Israeli government, Gabriel’s wife and child were victims of a car bomb intended for him. His son was killed, and his wife suffers from post traumatic stress. She is in a mental institution and continuously relives the event in her mind. She has intermittent periods of lucidity, but mostly lives in the past. The rest of the world believes that she died along with their son, so in a previous novel she was able to grant Gabriel permission to remarry, and approves of his new wife, Chiara. After the bombing, Gabriel quit working for the government, but he is often pressed back into service by the “Old Man,” Ari Shamron, who recruited Gabriel into the service in the beginning.

In the Defector, Gabriel and Chiara are living a calm, peaceful life in Italy when Grigori Bulganov, a Russian who defected in the previous novel, goes missing. The British secret service is convinced that Grigori went back to Russia, but Gabriel knows better. Grigori would not have returned to Russia willingly with Ivan Kharkov, the arms dealer, still in a place of power and able to pull strings behind the scenes in the government. Ultimately, Grigori’s disappearance is part of a larger plan by Kharkov to get back at Gabriel. That plan includes kidnapping Gabriel’s wife, Chiara. Once this happens, the CIA, Britain’s MI-5, and the Israeli secret service come together to support Gabriel and his team.

This was a fast-paced tale of espionage, and I enjoyed it as I did the other Gabriel Allon books. It was a bit similar to the others – Gabriel is reluctantly dragged back into the life of an assassin, and assembles his crack team to achieve a goal that is believed to be impossible. I’m also a firm believer in reading books in a series in order, and this one definitely should be preceded by Moscow Rules.


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