The Black Widow by Daniel Silva is the 16th novel in Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series – and yet, it’s been hailed his most timely and most powerful novel yet. Below I will explain why, but first, some context:
Gabriel Allon is the protagonist in Silva’s internationally bestselling thriller and espionage series. Allon works for Israeli intelligence on international missions. His ancestors are of German decent; most notably his grandfather, who was a German expressionist painter. This is the inspiration behind both Allon’s cover and his favourite past-time: in addition to an international spy and world-class assassin, he is also an art restorer based in Italy.
TLDR: Gabriel Allon is an Art Restorer, spy and assassin for Israeli intelligence.
He has been called the most compelling fictional creation “since Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond” (Rocky Mountain News) and “one of fiction’s greatest spies” (Kirkus).
Now, the interesting part. Gabriel Allon has traveled throughout Europe (and the world!) on missions of international espionage. But what makes The Black Widow so interesting, and “the most important book of the summer” (Hugh Hewitt), is that in this particular story, Allon is grappling with an ISIS mastermind. Who has recently detonated a massive bomb in Paris.
(Like I said, timely.)
In this interview with Huffington Post, Silva confirmed that The Black Widow was written prior to the Paris attack last November. “It felt so terrible that I seriously considered setting the book aside and writing something else,” he said. “In the end, I chose to pretend the Paris attack in November had not happened in the universe where my characters live and work. The similarities between the attack—the use of bombs and guns, the links to Molenbeek in Brussels—were all written before the actual Paris attack.”
Though fiction, Silva gives insight into the current state of affairs in Europe and across the Middle East. His experience in journalism (he worked at United Press International as a Middle East Correspondent before moving to CNN) lends him the credibility to do so.
Will Gabriel Allon save the day? Let’s hope so… I think we all need to see the good guy (and/or girl*) succeed right now.
*Without any spoilers, please note that The Black Widow is also a character in the novel, so if you’re looking for a kickass female undercover agent who infiltrates ISIS, look no further.
Follow me on Twitter @ktvncnt