Gabriel Allon series; Black Widow is the first of them, number 16 in the series, which I've just finished. I'll probably read some other things before I get to number 17. This one was a little preachy for me. Silva, its seems to me, is using his position as a popular writer to warn the world about the impending doom that international terrorism can bring, and to critique the western response to the threat, as short sighted, politically, or even personally motivated, and very likely to make things worse.
That is not an opinion that I disagree with, exactly, its just that I'm not sure what the solution is. Terrorists that have no fear of death used to be viewed as rare, and born of mental illness. The terrorists the world is currently dealing with are not mentally ill, they are as sane as we are, and appear to be fighting for what they believe in, much as we do. I'm not apologizing, or even sympathizing, what I am saying is that thinking of terrorists as crazed thugs, moves us further away from understanding. And maybe, therefore, away from potential solutions.
Black Widow appears to be Silva's idea about how to combat the threat. Infiltrate. And destroy from within. In fact, that may actually be going on, how would we know. For all of our useless 24 hour coverage, we only hear the same things repeated over an over, slightly repackaged, in order to fill the time between the commercials. Real things happen all around us, and we have no idea. Silva, and many others, believe that the group trying to take over Syria, were given the opportunity to do so by the American led invasion. The war created the vacuum of power that allowed this group, and groups like them to grow.
That may be true, but it also may be unknowable. Silva seems to have taken it personally that his voice, and voices like him, haven't been heeded. And his anger, or at least his disgust, seems to be bleeding through into his writing. I wouldn't say that Gabriel Allon takes a backseat to the author's punditry, but Silva does seem to be less invisible in this episode than I have noticed in the past.
Not as procedural as some of the other novels, which I have enjoyed, but for diehard fans, this episode is another solid chapter in the overall story arc.