Featured Review: ‘The New Girl’ by Daniel Silva

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The New GirlOne year after producing what might be the best spy novel since John le Carre’s The Spy who Came in from the Cold, Daniel Silva (The Other Woman, 2018, etc.) is back with another riveting, twisting tale of espionage that further cements his legacy as one of the greatest novelists the genre has ever known. 

Opening in Geneva, Silva’s 19th Allon novel introduces Jihan—the mysterious new girl at a very exclusive boarding school—who arrives each day via a motorcade fit for a king. Her classmates wonder about her past, as do her teachers, but it’s not until she vanishes one afternoon that her true identity is revealed. 

Jihan, it turns out, is the daughter of Khalid bin Mohammed, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Once known as a social reformer who set out to modernize his religiously intolerant country, Khalid bin Mohammed—or KBM for short—has since become a controversial figure for all the wrong reasons due to his role in the killing of a journalist named Omar Nawwaf. (It’s clear that Mohammad bin Salman is the inspiration for Khalid, who in real life was implicated in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year.)

Now, with few friends to turn to, the distraught crown prince seeks out former CIA officer turned art curator Sarah Bancroft, whom he’d used as an unofficial advisor of sorts when purchasing various works of art in the past. Longtime readers of the Allon series will recall Bancroft’s—who first appeared in Silva’s 2007 Barry Award-winning novel The Messenger, before returning in other books throughout the years—close relationship with Gabriel and his wife, Chiara, something KBM was fully aware of, and counting on, when he reached out to her. 

After her calls go unanswered, Bancroft travels from New York to Tel Aviv, where she presents Gabriel (who is traveling with a beefed-up security team following the events of, well, the last eighteen books) with an interesting opportunity. Soon thereafter, Gabriel meets with KBM, who vows to continue his crusade to break the bond between the Saudi Kingdom and radical Islam—sparking an unlikely alliance, as Allon agrees to help find and recover his daughter. However, though things initially seemed straightforward enough, Gabriel quickly realizes they are anything but, as KBM receives impossible demands from his daughter’s kidnappers—which is nothing compared to the shocking endgame Allon uncovers as the story unfolds.

Realizing he’s stumbled into a dangerous secret war, Gabriel Allon must navigate his way through the conflict while looking over his shoulder for both the enemies he’s made throughout his career and those after Khalid bin Mohammed. With the stakes higher than ever and countless lives on the line, it’s once again up to the wayward son of Israeli intelligence to find a way to save the day, and one wrong move could mean devastating consequences throughout the Middle East . . .

Frankly, it’s hard to fathom that Silva could ever top himself after last year’s The Other Woman, but he’s done just that. The New Girl is one of his fastest-moving thrillers yet (after a slower opening that sets the foundation for what’s to come) and features a number of perfectly-timed twists that constantly raise the stakes, forcing Allon, who is under steady duress, to adjust on the fly with only several days to connect all the dots and take action before it’s too late. Without giving away the meat of the plot, it’s one of Silva’s most timely, ripped-from-the-headlines stories to date—and, as his work is prone to do, at times it even reads a bit too close for comfort. 

He’s one of the all-time greats for a reason, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon . . . Reading Daniel Silva’s expertly crafted novels is to witness a master at work, and The New Girl is as close to perfect as you could ever hope for a thriller to be.

Book Details

Author: Daniel Silva
Series: Gabriel Allon #19
Pages: 496 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062834835
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 10/10*

*With over 600 book reviews filed to date, this is only the third time I’ve ever scored a perfect 10/10 rating. The other two times were for Don Winslow’s The Force (2017) and Winslow’s The Border (2019). 

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Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and FacebookHe currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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