The Black Widow by Daniel Silva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Natalie Mizrahi’s Jewish parents were driven from Algeria to France by prejudice. Then they were driven from France, where she had studied medicine, to Israel by terrorism. She learned to speak French, of course, Hebrew, English and Arabic, which made her a perfect choice when master spy and assassin, Gabriel Allon needed a woman to infiltrate ISIS in Syria. The only problem, Natalie wasn’t a spy. Not to worry. Israeli intelligence, known as the Office, was second to none in training assets in a remarkably brief time. In the space of weeks, Natalie Mizrahi, French Jewish doctor, became Leila Hadawi, Muslim jihadi, seeking revenge for her dead lover, Ziad. With the cooperation of French intelligence, Natalie is inserted into a Muslim enclave north of Paris where she works in a hastily organized community clinic. It doesn’t take long for ISIS recruiters to take the bait, and she finds herself carried clandestinely to Syria to receive terrorist training, and to meet her quarry, Saladin. Natalie has a deadline to return to France. Nearing the end, and not having met Saladin, terror attack mastermind, she fears her mission will end in failure. When she finally does meet Saladin, he is near death from wounds received in an American airstrike. Does she use her medical expertise to save him, and maintain her cover, or does she do the world a favor and inject him with an overdose of morphine.
Silva’s Gabriel Allon is a masterwork of character development. Allon entered life to be an artist, but he was recruited at an early age to avenge the killing of Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. He excelled at his new avocation, but never completely renounced his artistic genius. Later the stress of assassinations was compounded manifold when he lost his family to a terrorist bomb. After years of running from the pain, he found solace in the love of the much younger Chiara, who was also an employee of the Office. The Allon series hasn’t failed me yet, and I expect it never will. The Black Widow is one of the best. It deals with contemporary issues that are frightfully real. The recent attacks in Europe and America are herein fictionalized in chilling reality. In the light of the pending presidential election, all should read this prescient glimpse of the near future.
As a self-publishing author who tires of the perception by some people that self-published books are full of errors, and traditionally published books are flawless, I’d like to point to three errors that I noted in Black Widow, which is published by Harper-Collins. There is a reference to the scent of bougainvillea, which has no fragrance. The phrase ‘entered her bloodstream like drug from a needle’ appears to be missing the word ‘a’ after ‘like.’ Finally, there is reference to a finch in Washington DC in the winter, which is highly unlikely. Nobody is perfect, so get over it.
Buy at Amazon $14.99
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