Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva

(For this review, I'm excerpting my full review over at Crucial Pop, because I have a lot to say on this one...)

I have to admit, I'm really dragging at work today.

I had to start mainlining the caffeine early, and I've been trying to avoid the urge to take a snooze under my desk while the library runs along without me for a few minutes.


Because I stayed up way past my bedtime last night so I could finish a book.

(It’s an occupational hazard, I swear. You know the joke, right? The only thing worse than a bartender who drinks is a librarian who reads. Har, har…)

Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva is one of those books you don't put down once you cross the threshold into the story and get going.

This novel is the latest in the "Gabriel Allon" series from Silva, following the adventures of sometimes fine art restorer and sometimes Mossad (Israeli intelligence) operative Allon as he foils the bad guys, sets up and knocks down terrorists and kingpins, and manages to work in a little time for romance and fine art.

I was musing how best to describe this fantastically written new novel from Silva, and here's the best recipe I have come up with so far:

Take one part James Bond, stir in a healthy dose of Jack Ryan, dash in parts of The Saint, whip in a little Jack Bauer and be sure to finish with a splash of The Hunt for Red October.

That kind of sums it up.

In this latest outing, Allon's honeymoon is interrupted by Russian journalists - two, in fact - who end up dead in pursuit of telling Allon about a new arms dealer working out of Russia. Through many twists and turns, Allon discovers the source of this alarming news: someone very close to one of the biggest business oligarchs working in newly democratized Russia knows the damage Ivan Kharkov is about to inflict on the international rules of engagement, and is unwilling to stand by while he does...

What follows is an international dance along a knife edge to bring down the baddies, keep the public none the wiser, and bring all the good guys home safely – a task that is definitely easier said than done – when the major players are having to play by the “Moscow Rules” (a name for the rules of engagement developed by the CIA during the Cold War which still have a chilling place in Silva’s Russia today).

This novel is full of fast paced, furious writing, and lots of twists and turns, and a bevy of international locations filled with the rich, the glamorous - and the dangerous.

I absolutely could not put this novel down as I tried to figure out how Allon was going to stay one step ahead, what missions they were going to put together next to foil the terrorist plot, and how it was going to finally end up at "happily ever after". Silva’s pacing is such that you can’t end at the end of the chapter – you have to know where the story is going to go next, and to what exotic locale so you have to keep reading.

But believe me, this novel is worth staying up late for, even if you end up overdosing on caffeine the next day...

Moscow Rules is due for release on July 22, 2008.