The English Girl by Daniel Silva

I’ve been disappointed by a number of books recently. Not Silva. He keeps getting better.

REVIEW:

A beautiful woman is snatched from her vacation on Corsica. A ransom note reaches 10 Downing Street. An ambitious, unfaithful prime minister seriously needs a fixer.

… Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon, one of the more believable and likable heroes in recent spy fiction.

To call The English Girl a page turner is an oversimplification.

Smart, unpredictable, and packed with bits of history, art, heart, and imagination, this is a page turner to be savored. Let me just say that I like John LeCarre. Big fan. Still impressively relevant and prolific into his 80s. But the torch must pass to someone. …

Daniel Silva isn’t quite LeCarre. He’s a more modern breed, with some major DNA overlap. (Other DNA-sharing: Graham Greene, Joseph Kanon, Alan Furst.) When it comes to the vast club of practitioners of international spycraft, Silva is a cut above them all, and The English Girl is a masterwork. —Neal Thompson

 
related – MGM TV Acquires Rights to Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon Spy Novels

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

I’d enjoyed the first two books in the Chief Inspector Armand Ganache books by Canadian author Louise Penny.

But I’m giving up after book 3 – The Cruelest Month.

Click PLAY or watch Louise introduce it on YouTube.

If Agatha Christie read this book she’d be aghast. Great writing but an absurd, unbelievable plot.

There’s no way one small Quebec town can support a murder every year.

I’m out.

But I’ll miss Ruth Zardo, everyone’s favourite character.

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva

Well written, as always, the plot kept me going. It’s one of the best books in the series.

After narrowly surviving his last operation, Gabriel Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, has taken refuge behind the walls of the Vatican, where he is restoring one of Caravaggio’s greatest masterpieces.

But early one morning he is summoned to St. Peter’s Basilica by Monsignor Luigi Donati, the all-powerful private secretary to His Holiness Pope Paul VII. The body of a beautiful woman lies broken beneath Michelangelo’s magnificent dome. The Vatican police suspect suicide, though Gabriel believes otherwise. So, it seems, does Donati, who calls upon Gabriel to quietly pursue the truth—with one caveat.

My main criticism is that Silva is VERY pro-Israel, anti-Palestine. There’s not the slightest attempt for balance on that issue.

West with the Night – Beryl Markham autobiography

West with the Night is a 1942 memoir by Beryl Markham, chronicling her experiences growing up in Kenya (then British East Africa) in the early 1900s, leading to a career as a bush pilot there.

It is considered a classic of outdoor literature …

There are some questions of whether Markham is the real author of her memoir. According to the 1993 biography, The Lives of Beryl Markham, by Errol Trzebinski, the book’s real author was her third husband, the ghost writer and journalist Raoul Schumacher. …

Ernest Hemingway was deeply impressed with Markham’s writing, saying:

“she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers … it really is a bloody wonderful book.”

In 2004, National Geographic Adventure ranked it number 8 in a list of 100 best adventure books. …

Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli

Keen to learn more about Bhutan, I picked up this rather casual account of an NPR journalist’s trips starting 2008.

Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an opportunity to move halfway around the world, Lisa left behind cosmopolitan Los Angeles for a new adventure in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan—said to be one of the happiest places on earth. …

As she helps to start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM, she must come to terms with her conflicting feelings about the impact of the medium on a country that had been shielded from its effects. …

Bhutan’s still too expensive for me.

All tourists must pay US$250 per person per day (US$200 a day from December to February and June to August), with a US$40/30 surcharge per person for those in a group of one/two. This covers accommodation, transport in Bhutan, a guide, food and entry fees.