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Friday, November 18, 2016

The English Girl by Daniel Silva

The English Girl by Daniel Silva
I like Daniel Silva's books, well, I liked both of the ones I've read. I finished this one in two days. It's not a great book, but it's pretty good. It is not totally smooth, the ride is a little rough, but there weren't any of those giant potholes that cause me to curse in disgust. For instance, I started reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson a few months back and things were going along swimmingly until I got about half way through the book and the President of the United States shows up and we (by which I mean the characters in the story) start having some kind of bullshit discussion. I had to put the book aside it was so repulsive. Given Neal's skill as a writer, I presume that is the effect he was trying to achieve. It's just that in my case it worked too well. I still want to finish that book, but it is going to take some determination to wade through this section, which I am hoping is short. If it goes on for too much longer I will be forced to toss it on the reject pile. Anyway, enough about Seveneves, let's get back to The English Girl.

It's an espionage thriller that takes place in Europe (France and England) and Moscow. Did you know that Corsica is part of France? I'm not sure I did. We've got some tradecraft, some politics and some travelogue. We get some history of some of the characters and there is a certain amount of violence, which is part and parcel of the espionage business. The tradecraft might be the most interesting part. Not all of it makes perfect sense, but you can see how a lot of it would work, especially given the resources on hand. The political slant is pro-West. Iran gets a special mention as a villain, even though we never go there. Russia is the big villain in this story. I wish I had a clearer picture of that situation.

In the book and in reality, Russia is trying to claw it's way back to being a global superpower, and they aren't above throwing their weight around, but not I'm sure attacking Europe would buy them anything but grief. But then, who know's what Putin is thinking? The West has a 200 year lead on the rest of world in learning how to run a democracy. Faulting Asia for being ruled by tyrants is akin to criticizing cave men for using stone axes. Asia is going to continue producing horror stories for a long time to come. Maybe in a hundred years they might come around to democracy. But by they we might have fallen under the spell of a despot.


Anonymous said...

I remember that part of Seveneves - pretty unpleasant stuff. It does get better, and the second half of the book is not to be missed.

Chuck Pergiel said...

Gimme five!