Moscow Rules Review
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Somewhere in the hills of Umbria, a mysterious man arrives at the Gasparri villa and, with a beautiful woman at his side, begins restoring a beautiful old painting. But this man is more than a restorer who’s been commissioned by the Vatican. He’s Gabriel Allon, an Israeli intelligence agent who’s in Umbria on his honeymoon.

But Gabriel’s holiday is cut short when he’s called away on business. A Russian journalist has contacted the embassy in Rome, claiming to have very important information—information that he’ll only give to Gabriel…and only in person. But the journalist is killed before he can talk—and his death sends Gabriel to Moscow, in search of information so important that it’s worth killing to keep hidden.

On his trip to Russia, Gabriel learns all about the unwritten rules for surviving in Moscow. He’s also given a name: Ivan Kharkov. The former KGB colonel turned successful businessman and underground arms dealer may be at the center of a dangerous deal. And unless Gabriel can find Kharkov and stop the deal, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Moscow Rules was the first of Silva’s Gabriel Allon thrillers that I’ve read—but it certainly won’t be the last. This gripping adventure kept me captivated from beginning to end—but although Silva packs the story with action and adventure, there’s so much more to it than just shootouts and chases. And, as a result, Moscow Rules is a smart thriller. Silva allows the suspense to build gradually as he carefully shapes his remarkably detailed plot. He takes the time to build the story, allowing his characters to plan and strategize and follow through—and, of course, he throws in plenty of surprises along the way.

It’s clear that Silva has done his research—and he fills the story with all kinds of interesting facts and details. Yet, despite the novel’s political (and somewhat sensational) subject matter, it never feels too heavy. And while it has its share of political propaganda, it’s not excessive.

Still, Moscow Rules would be nothing without a solid main character like Gabriel Allon. He’s artistic yet calculating, tough yet thoughtful. He’s dedicated to his work—yet, at the same time, he’s troubled by it. And, of course, he’s just plain smart. He can put together an international team and devise a detailed plan while somehow staying one step ahead of his enemies—almost like an Israeli Danny Ocean…only on the other side of the law.

Combine this gruff but likeable character with a detailed story and loads of gripping suspense, and you’ve got yourself a winning thriller. So if you haven’t met Gabriel Allon yet, now’s the perfect time.

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