July 28, 2013

“The English Girl” by Daniel Silva – A British Needle in a French Haystack

The English Girl by Daniel Silva (Book cover)
In the last few years Daniel Silva has made a name for himself as the author of various exciting thrillers and mystery novels, many of them revolving around a recurring protagonist, Gabriel Allon, master Israeli intelligence officer and art restorer extraordinaire.

After finishing a case where his ridiculously-useless (for intelligence work of course) talent turned out to actually have a purpose, Gabriel Allon finds himself entangled in a whole different kind of web in The English Girl.

An important British woman has reportedly disappeared on the French island of Corsica, and things wouldn't be so bad if that woman didn't have information which could utterly destroy the career of a prime minister, and if she wasn't taken as a hostage.

If there was a single way to describe this book, I would say that it’s a non-stop thriller ride set on one of the most artistically-conscious roads there are out there.

Daniel Silva incorporates a fair amount of art as well as interesting facts in relation to it in his book. He describes some pieces of work in great detail, and even delves into touches on a few more or less abstract concepts.

However, he doesn’t focus on that aspect of the story more than is necessary and spends most of the time developing the actual subject, and boy is he good at that.

Contrary to most mystery novels these days, this one actually is unpredictable. In general, I can predict a fair amount of the twists and turns a book is trying to hide, but this time around I just found myself giving up on the predictions and reading through it without making it into some kind of personal contest.

It shows that Daniel Silva took his time crafting the story; he is a master at leading his readers by the nose and putting them exactly where he wants them to be.

Finally, I feel like I have to dedicate this little section of the review to the characters. Silva does a magnificent job at making his characters feel lifelike, three-dimensional, and actually human.

The English Girl by Daniel Silva (Book cover)
They aren’t cookie-cutter characters with personalities copy-pasted from the book of clichés… rather, each and every one of them feels quite unique and important, especially Allon who, despite being one of the most impossibly-indomitable humans on the planet, feels like he could actually exist.

All in all, The English Girl is one of the most surprising and enthralling mysteries I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a while, and I safely recommend it to any fans of the genre.

Daniel Silva (Author)

Daniel Silva

Personal site

Daniel Silva is an American author renowned for his numerous espionage and thriller novels. His first publication was made back in 1996, The Unlikely Spy, and became a New York Times bestseller, launching off his career.

He is the recipient of the 2007 Barry Award for Best Thriller for writing The Messenger, and in 2009 was appointed to as part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Council.


  1. You should maybe also dedicate a paragraph on how Silva chooses his themes: Having heard him talk to Elaine Charles, the host for the Book report radio show, I started fully realizing how topical this novel is. In the interview he elaborates (and carries on quite a bit) on the Soviet spies that were uncovered int he US, how Snowden needs to be held accountable, and how vitally important the bill being debated in congress at the moment regarding the powers of the NSA is. All these very real aspects makes this book even better. Fiction with a real edge to it.

    1. Hello Benny, thanks for giving your input on the book, and you are definitely right, I should have paid a bit more attention to his themes... however, I didn't want to make the review too long and had to pick what to put in it. In any case, it seems like you took care of that for me, and I truly appreciate the elaboration you made on that aspect of the book and I do agree that all of these pressing and real-world topics male the book that much more interesting, and perhaps even insightful.