Friday, August 26, 2022

FInished: Daniel Silva's 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman'

 I really struggled to get through Silva's recently-released novel, the 22nd in the Gabriel Allon series.

Typically, I've liked how Silva weaves some art history into these spy novels. Makes me feel like I'm getting cultured while reading about people getting blown up. But this was one too many Picasso's for me.

In this story, Gabriel has finally retired from the Israeli Mossad, thinking he's going to begin a life of leisure and love with his long-suffering wife. But, of course, it doesn't work out that way and he's thrown into a mystery of forged paintings. The entire thing is one painting after another, with grueling detail about each. 

Halfway through I started humming the George Strait song: You Know Me Better Than That.

I'm into culture, clean up to my ears; It's like wearing a shoe that's too small

I've read all Silva's books. I loved the first 20. After the last two, I'm not sure I'll buy another. Oh, I'm lying, I'm sure I will but I probably won't pre-order it like this time and will wait until the paperback comes out. And cross my fingers.

Amazonians gave it 4.5 stars out of 5, which surprises me. I gave it a 4 of 10, which is just above a DNF.

This two-star review from Lizzie G. kind of nailed it for me:

"In cutting Allon free of The Office, Daniel Silva has metaphorically castrated his hero and turned him to a parody of the man he was. This book bears no resemblance to others in the series; the plotline is contrived, the characters wooden and the action - such as it is - unremarkable. The old gang get a single name-check towards the beginning and are then forgotten completely. With far too much detail of art and art forgeries, the book limps sadly along for 400+ pages, most of it merely padding out a non-story that I found impossible to care about. Two stars for the quality of the writing, no stars for the content."

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