four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
36-Sept-Oct-2008
By: 
Daniel Silva
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0
Award Year: 
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A-Moscow RulesDaniel Silva introduced the Israeli art restorer and secret agent Gabriel Allon in The Kill Artist (2000). Most recently, in The Secret Servant ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2007), Allon tried to prevent a rising Islamic fundamentalist group from terrorizing Europe. Moscow Rules is the eighth in the series.

The Story: In the new Moscow, a city fueled by wealth, power, and corruption, Ivan Kharkov, a former KGB colonel, has built his financial empire on secret arms dealings. When Israeli intelligence receives word that the Russian is plotting to supply al-Qaeda with missiles, they call in Gabriel Allon—in Italy, honeymooning with his second wife and restoring a painting—to meet with a Russian magazine editor who will relay a message about the threat. But when the informant is murdered before divulging his secret, Allon is dispatched to Moscow to learn more about the weaponry. He must play by Moscow rules—or else watch as al-Qaeda carries out the deadliest attacks the world has ever seen.
Putnam. 448 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0399155015

Chicago Sun-Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Silva always asks tough questions, and they’ve gotten tougher. His books always reflect both the complicated world—ours—in which his stories take place, as well as the sometimes simple, sometimes simplistic responses those questions evoke." Joanne Collings

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"The immense amount of research Silva puts into his stories makes them engrossing—and the use of locales add[s] color and excitement to the story beyond the violence. … Silva continues to provide some of the most exciting spy fiction since Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond." Peter Mergendahl

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"Silva packs his pages with detailed tradecraft—and with local color that lives and breathes of such settings as the French Riviera, London, Paris and (of course, given the title) Moscow. … Moscow Rules is worth the price simply for the first chapter, in which Silva uses humor to show how a snooty hotel in the French Alps makes life hell for a Russian rube who’s an unwelcome guest." Harry Levins

San Antonio Exp-News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Unfortunately, Silva relies on a deus ex machina to rescue Allon from certain death. … The warning in this book: The Russian leadership will stop at nothing to regain the country’s standing as a superpower." Sterlin Holmesly

Critical Summary

Gabriel Allon returns in fine form in Moscow Rules. That is, he is as faithful, competent, and moody as ever as he once again becomes entangled in a conspiracy he’d rather have avoided. One of Silva’s strengths throughout the series is avoiding black-and-white depictions of issues ranging from extremism to terrorism to love, although there’s usually a political message at the end—and Silva imbues Moscow Rules with such nuance. As the Chicago Sun-Times points out, "Silva just gets better as the questions get harder." Silva’s portrayal of the new Moscow ruled by the same iron fist as the old fascinated critics, who also praised his gift for setting, suspense, and action. A few critics quibbled over some stereotypical characterizations and convenient subplots—but still agreed that Moscow Rules is a fast-paced, provoking read.