Review: Moscow Rules, by Daniel Silva

A Russian journalist dies and once more Gabriel Allon, the mysterious Israeli agent/fine picture restorer, ends up back in Moscow, a place he loathes, a place where he almost died once.

Bestselling thriller writer Daniel Silva has gone to the new Moscow, one of sudden self-made millionaires working at the same level of intrigue as the old KGB. Allon has just gotten married to Chiara and is on his honeymoon in Italy, happily restoring a painting under an alias, when his employers call, asking for a favor. It seems a second Russian journalist wants to tell Allon and only Allon why the first journalist, his co-worker, was killed.

This meeting never takes place – the second journalist is killed right before Allon can get to him – and in short order, Allon has a full-fledged case on his hands. Rather than coming back the next night, Allon enters into an extended absence from the Old Master and his new wife.

Allon summons up an Israeli investigative team and he and his fellow agents eventually turn up the name of one Ivan Kharkov, a former KGB colonel. Kharkov has carried over his previous covert training into his new career as an international arms dealer, and one willing to sell to Al-Qaeda. To collect information on him, Allon must persuade Kharkov’s wife to betray her husband.

Moscow Rules refers to a list of rules to live by for spies in the former Soviet Union, the chief among them being: You are never completely alone. Silva’s latest is both fast-past thriller with all the appropriate twists and turns and a fascinating look at the inner workings of Russian society today.

A book signing by Silva is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, July 27 at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. – Margaret Downing

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